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Uridine triacetate has been shown to be an effective antidote against mortality and toxicity caused by either overdoses or exaggerated susceptibility to the widely used anticancer agents 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) and capecitabine. However, a direct assessment of efficacy based on when emergency treatment was initiated was not clinically feasible. In this study we used mouse models of 5-FU overdose and of dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase (DPD) deficiency to compare the efficacy of uridine triacetate in reducing toxicity and mortality when treatment was initiated at time points from 4 to 144 h after administration of 5-FU. We found that uridine triacetate was effective both in the 5-FU overdose and DPD deficiency models. Starting treatment within 24 h was most effective at reducing toxicity and mortality in both models, while treatment starting more than 96 to 120 h after 5-FU was far less effective. Uridine triacetate also reduced mortality in the DPD deficiency model when mice were treated with the 5-FU prodrug capecitabine. The results of this study are supportive of clinical observations and practice, indicating that efficacy declined progressively with later and later treatment initiation. Prompt treatment with uridine triacetate, within 24 h, conferred the greatest protection against 5-FU overexposure.Uridine triacetate reduced mortality from 5FU overdose and DPD deficiency.Treatment within 24 h conferred the greatest protection against 5FU overexposure.Delaying uridine triacetate administration led to greater toxicity and mortality.Little benefit was observed when uridine triacetate was given 96–120 h after 5FU.Results support clinical evidence of reduced 5FU/capecitabine mortality and toxicity.