BACKGROUND The aim of this study is to determine the efficacy of neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) with gemcitabine (GEM) in combination with fluorescence-guided surgery (FGS) on a pancreatic cancer patient derived orthotopic xenograft (PDOX) model. METHODS A PDOX model was established from a CEA-positive tumor from a patient who had undergone a pancreaticoduodenectomy for pancreatic adenocarcinoma. Mice were randomized to 4 groups: bright light surgery (BLS) only; BLS + NAC; FGS only; and FGS + NAC. An anti-CEA antibody conjugated to DyLight 650 was administered intravenously via the tail vein of mice with a pancreatic cancer PDOX 24 h before surgery. RESULTS The PDOX was clearly labeled with fluorophore-conjugated anti-CEA antibody. Only one out of 8 mice had local recurrence in the FGS only group and zero out of 8 mice had local recurrence in the FGS + NAC which was significantly lower than BLS only or BLS + NAC mice, where local disease recurred in 6 out of 8 mice in each treatment group (p = 0.041 and p = 0.007, respectively). NAC did not significantly reduce recurrence rates when combined with either FGS or BLS. CONCLUSION These results indicate that FGS can significantly reduce local recurrence compared to BLS in pancreatic cancer resistant to NAC.