Cell-based gene therapy to alter the myocardial tissue microenvironment has been shown to improve mechanical cardiac function, but little is known regarding its effects on arrhythmogenic risk. Clinical studies with skeletal myoblasts (SKMBs) have suggested a potential increase in arrhythmogenic risk. Therefore, we studied the functional mechanical and electrical effects of transient reestablishment of stem cell homing via transplantation of stromal-cell derived factor-1 (SDF-1)-expressing SKMBs. Eight weeks after anterior myocardial infarction, rats received in five divided doses into the periinfarct zone 1 million SKMBs transfected with AdSDF-1 (n=15) or AdGFP (n=8). Echocardiography was used to quantify changes in cardiac function, and optical mapping was used to determine the arrhythmogenic risk. Eight weeks after cell therapy, we observed a 54% (p=0.004) increase in shortening fraction in AdSDF-1:SKMB-treated rats, but only an 18.8% increase (p=not significant) with GFP:SKMB. SDF-1-treated hearts exhibited an increase in vascular density compared with control SKMBs (34.9+/-7.1 vs. 20.7+/-5.6 vessels/mm2; p<0.01). Optical mapping performed 8 weeks after cell therapy revealed that all animals that received SKMBs regardless of viral transfection had inducible ventricular tachycardia (VT) whereas only 50% of saline-treated animals had inducible VT (p<0.05). Transient reestablishment of stem cell homing via transplantation of modified SKMBs is sufficient to improve cardiac function. However, despite improved mechanical function, the risk of ventricular tachycardia increased. We propose that future studies on functional effects of cell-based gene therapies should address both mechanical and electrical consequences.