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High atomic number material, such as gold, may be used in conjunction with radiation to provide dose enhancement in tumors. In the current study, we investigated the dose-enhancing effect and apoptotic potential of gold nanoparticles in combination with single-dose clinical electron beams on B16F10 melanoma tumor-bearing mice. We revealed that the accumulation of gold nanoparticles was detected inside B16F10 culture cells after 18 h of incubation, and moreover, the gold nanoparticles were shown to be colocalized with endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi apparatus in cells. Furthermore, gold nanoparticles radiosensitized melanoma cells in the colony formation assay (P = 0.02). Using a B16F10 tumor-bearing mouse model, we further demonstrated that gold nanoparticles in conjunction with ionizing radiation significantly retarded tumor growth and prolonged survival compared to the radiation alone controls (P < 0.05). Importantly, an increase of apoptotic signals was detected inside tumors in the combined treatment group (P < 0.05). Knowing that radiation-induced apoptosis has been considered a determinant of tumor responses to radiation therapy, and the length of tumor regrowth delay correlated with the extent of apoptosis after single-dose radiotherapy, these results may suggest the clinical potential of gold nanoparticles in improving the outcome of melanoma radiotherapy. (Cancer Sci 2008; 99: 1479–1484)