A high titer retroviral vector was used to transfer a human adenosine deaminase (h-ADA) cDNA into murine bone marrow cells in vitro. The h- ADA cDNA was linked to the retroviral promoter, and the vector also contained a neomycin phosphotransferase gene as a selectable marker. Infected marrow was transplanted into syngeneic W/Wv recipients, and h- ADA expression was monitored for 5.5 months. Several weeks after transplantation, h-ADA was detected in the erythrocytes of all nine recipients, eight of which expressed levels equal to the endogenous enzyme. This level of expression persisted in two of six surviving mice, while expression in three others stabilized at lower, but readily detectable, levels. Only one mouse had no detectable h-ADA after 5.5 months. Vector DNA sequences with common integration sites were found in hematopoietic and lymphoid tissues of the mice at 5.5 months, providing evidence that hematopoietic stem cells had been infected. Furthermore, all mice transplanted with marrow that had been selected in G418 before infusion had multiple vector copies per genome. While this category included the two highest h-ADA expressors, it also included the negative mouse. Thus, multiple copies of the vector were not sufficient to guarantee long-term h-ADA expression. Mice were monitored for “helper virus” infections with an assay designed to detect a wide range of replication-competent retroviruses, including those endogenous to the mouse genome. No helper virus was detected in the two highest h-ADA expressors, ruling out helper-assisted vector spread as a cause of the high h-ADA expression. These results help provide a foundation for the development of somatic gene therapy techniques to be used in the treatment of human disease.