We explored a very interesting gold nanoparticle system-pegylated gold in colloidal solution-and analyzed its uptake by mice colorectal adenocarcinoma CT26 tumor cells and the impact on the cell's response to x-ray irradiation. We found that exposure to polyethylene glycol ( PEG) modified ('pegylated') 4.7 +/- 2.6 nm gold nanoparticles synthesized by a novel synchrotron-based method enhances the response of CT26 cells to x-ray irradiation. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and confocal microscopy revealed that substantial amounts of such nanoparticles are taken up and absorbed by the cells and this conclusion is supported by quantitative induced coupled plasma (ICP) results. Standard tests indicated that the internalized particles are highly biocompatible but strongly enhance the cell damage induced by x-ray irradiation. Synchrotron radiation Fourier transform infrared (SR-FTIR) spectromicroscopy analyzed the chemical aspects of this phenomenon: the appearance of C = O stretching bond spectral features could be used as a marker for cell damage and confirmed the enhancement of the radiation-induced toxicity for cells.