Fanconi anemia (FA) is an autosomal recessive disorder that leads to aplastic anemia. Mutations in the FANCC gene account for 10-15% of cases. FA cells are abnormally sensitive to DNA-damaging agents such as mitomycin C (MMC). Transfection of normal FANCC into mutant cells corrects this hypersensitivity and improves their viability in vitro. Four FA patients, representing the three major FANCC mutation subgroups, were entered into a clinical trial of gene transduction aimed at correction of the hematopoietic defect. Three patients received three or four cycles of gene transfer, each consisting of one or two infusions of autologous hematopoietic progenitor cells that had been transduced ex vivo with a retroviral vector carrying the normal FANCC gene. Prior to infusion, the FANCC transgene was demonstrated in transduced CD34-enriched progenitor cells. After infusion, FANCC was also present transiently in peripheral blood (PB) and bone marrow (BM) cells. Function of the normal FANCC transgene was suggested by a marked increase in hematopoietic colonies measured by in vitro cultures, including colonies grown in the presence of MMC, after successive gene therapy cycles in all patients. Transient improvement in BM cellularity coincided with this expansion of hematopoietic progenitors. A fourth patient, who received a single infusion of transduced CD34-enriched BM cells, was given radiation therapy for a concurrent gynecologic malignancy. The FANCC transgene was detected in her PB and BM cells only after recovery from radiation-induced aplasia, suggesting that FANCC gene transduction confers a selective engraftment advantage. These experiments highlight both the potential and difficulties in applying gene therapy to FA.