The objective of this study was to develop an adenoviral vector system that would generate a pattern of expression of exogenous therapeutic genes appropriate for the treatment of ovarian cancer. For this purpose, we have generated a replication-deficient recombinant adenoviral vector, AdLPLacZ, which contains the human L-plastin (LP) promoter (LP-P) driving the Escherichia coli LacZ gene. LP is constitutively expressed at high levels in malignant epithelial cells but is not expressed in normal tissues, except at low levels in mature hematopoietic cells. Because adenoviral vectors infect early hematopoietic multilineage precursor cells only poorly or not at all, this vector would be of use in the peritoneal cavity and in vitro for marrow purging. We first analyzed the expression of the LacZ reporter gene in ovarian and breast cancer cell lines, normal fibroblasts, and leukemia cell lines using the adenoviral vector in which the LacZ gene is governed by the LP-P promoter (AdLPLacZ) or in which the LacZ gene is governed by the cytomegalovirus (CMV) promoter (AdCMVLacZ). We found equivalent and high levels of expression of beta-galactosidase (beta-gal) by AdLPLacZ and AdCMVLacZ vectors in the breast or ovarian cancer cell lines as well as in a fibrosarcoma cell line, indicating that the adenoviral vectors infected these cells and expressed their transgenes equally with the LP and CMV promoters. Expression of the LacZ gene with the CMV vector but not with the LP-P vector was observed in experiments with normal fibroblasts, indicating that the vectors infected the cells, but that the LP-P was not active within them. In hematopoietic cells such as U937 cells, no measurable beta-gal activity was detected in cells infected either by AdLPLacZ or by AdCMVLacZ, indicating that the adenoviral vectors were not infecting the cells. Although beta-gal activity was observed in fresh ascitic ovarian cancer cells after infection with adenoviral vectors containing CMV or the LP promoters, beta-gal activity was detected in a portion of a biopsy of normal peritoneum when the tissues were exposed to the AdCMVLacZ vector, but not when tissues were exposed to the AdLPLacZ vector. These results suggest that the transcription of therapeutic genes in cells infected by the AdLP vectors would be restricted to LP expression-positive ovarian carcinoma cells but would not be seen in the normal mesothelial cells of the peritoneal cavity. This possibility implies that adenoviral vectors carrying therapeutic genes driven by the LP-P would be of use for the intracavitary treatment ovarian cancer.