Adenoviral vector-based gene therapy is a promising approach for the treatment of restenosis postangioplasty. However, a high concentration of adenoviral vector can cause cellular activation, damage, and an enhanced immune response. One approach to solving this problem is to increase gene transfer efficiency by directing adenoviral vector entry via an alternate receptor system. We have constructed an adenoviral vector, Av9LacZ, that encodes the β-galactosidase gene and contains a chimeric fiber protein that redirects viral vector binding to the Ad3 adenoviral receptor on the host cell. We examined the ability of Av9LacZ to transduce primary human smooth muscle cells (SMC) and found that it showed a 10- to 15-fold higher transduction efficiency when compared to the prototypic adenoviral vector currently used for preclinical and clinical studies. While both vectors were able to transduce rabbit, pig and monkey SMCs, the genetically modified vector transduced human SMC with much higher efficiency. SMC obtained from the aorta, coronary, renal, popliteal and pulmonary arteries were all efficiently transduced by Av9LacZ. Consistent with the data obtained from cultured cells, Av9LacZ also transduced fresh human arterial tissues considerably more efficiently than Av1LacZ. We conclude that the large discrepancy between transduction of animal and human cells by conventional vectors supports a cautious extrapolation of the results of in vivo animal studies to man. Furthermore, the genetically modified AV9 vector may deliver better efficacy and studies in large animal models with this vector could be more predictive of therapeutic efficacy in the treatment of human restenosis.