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To examine clinical outcomes in patients receiving neoadjuvant chemoradiation for locally advanced rectal adenocarcinoma.Preoperative radiation therapy, either alone or in combination with 5-fluorouracil-based chemotherapy, has proven both safe and effective in the treatment of rectal cancer. However, data are lacking regarding which subgroups of patients benefit from the therapy in terms of decreased local recurrence and increased survival rates.A retrospective chart review was performed on 141 consecutive patients who received neoadjuvant chemoradiation (5-fluorouracil ± cisplatin and 4,500–5,040 cGy) for biopsy-proven locally advanced adenocarcinoma of the rectum. Surgery was performed 4 to 8 weeks after completion of chemoradiation. Standard statistical methods were used to analyze recurrence and survival.Median follow-up was 27 months, and mean age was 59 years (range 28–81). Mean tumor distance from the anal verge was 6 cm (range 1–15). Of those staged before surgery with endorectal ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging, 57% of stage II patients and 82% of stage III patients were downstaged. The chemotherapeutic regimens were well tolerated, and resections were performed on 140 patients. The percentage of sphincter-sparing procedures increased from 20% before 1996 to 76% after 1996. On pathologic analysis, 24% of specimens were T0. However, postoperative pathologic T stage had no effect on either recurrence or survival. Positive lymph node status predicted increased local recurrence and decreased survival.Neoadjuvant chemoradiation is safe, effective, and well tolerated. Postoperative lymph node status is the only independent predictor of recurrence and survival.