Locoregional relapse is the major cause of failure of nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) after radical radiation therapy. The prognosis of such patients is dismal, and the factors related to the outcome are not well identified. Between January 1983 and December 1989, 1,168 new patients with biopsyproven NPC were seen at this hospital. Eight hundred and eighty-three of these patients were treated uniformly with radical external irradiation and intracavitary treatment with or without chemotherapy. The clinical courses, retreatment outcomes, and prognostic factors for locoregional relapse and subsequent distant metastasis were analyzed. During the follow-up period of 3-10 years or until death, 182 patients (20.6%) developed locoregional relapses without distant metastasis initially. T stage and age were significant prognostic factors for locoregional recurrence. In contrast, histopathologic subtype, N stage, sex, and systemic chemotherapy were not. There were 36 patients (19.8%) who developed subsequent distant metastasis with or without retreatment. The median time from locoregional relapses to distant metastasis was 6 months in this study, and bone was the most frequent and the earliest site of distant metastasis. The N stage at diagnosis, the initial disease-free interval, the presence of neck nodal disease at relapse, and age were the significant factors for predicting the subsequent distant metastasis in locoregionally recurrent NPC patients. We recommend that additional systemic chemotherapy should be considered for retreatment of locoregional relapsed NPC, not only for enhancement of local control but also for eradicating microscopic metastasis as anticipated.