RAD21 is a component of the cohesion complex and is integral to chromosome segregation and error-free DNA repair. RAD21 is functionally important in tumour progression but its role in colorectal carcinoma (CRC) is unclear. We therefore assessed its clinicopathological and prognostic significance in CRC, as well as its effect on chemosensitivity.A retrospective observation study examined RAD21 expression in 652 CRCs using a tissue microarray approach. Correlation with clinicopathological factors including gender, tumour grade, mucinous subtype, TNM stage, disease-specific survival (DSS), BRAF and KRAS mutation status, tumour p53 immunostaining, tumour microsatellite instability and tumour CpG island methylator phenotype was performed. Colorectal cancer cell clones with stable RAD21 knockdown were generated and tested for cellular sensitivity to conventional chemotherapeutic drugs.RAD21 expression was significantly correlated with male gender (56.7% vs 43.3%, P=0.02), well-differentiated histology (14.4% vs 4.0%, P=0.0001), higher T-stage (36.1% vs 27.0%, P=0.01), presence of metastasis (18.8% vs 12.6%, P=0.03), and shorter DSS (hazard ratio (HR) 1.4, 95% CI 1.1 to 1.9, P=0.01) in both univariate and multivariate analysis. RAD21 expression was associated with shorter DSS in patients with KRAS mutant tumours (HR:2.6, 95% CI:1.4-4.3, P=0.001) and in patients receiving adjuvant chemoradiotherapy (HR:1.9, 95% CI:1.2-3.0, P=0.008). Colorectal cancer cells with RAD21 knockdown exhibited enhanced sensitivity to 5-fluorouracil, either alone or in combination with oxaliplatin.RAD21 expression in CRC is associated with aggressive disease especially in KRAS mutant tumours and resistance to chemoradiotherapy. RAD21 may be an important novel therapeutic target.