Mucopolysaccharidosis VII, a classical lysosomal storage disease, is caused by deficiency of the enzyme beta-glucuronidase. Central nervous system (CNS) manifestations are severe with accumulations of storage vacuoles in all cell types. Intraventricular gene transfer can lead to transduction of the ependyma, with production and secretion of beta-glucuronidase into the cerebral spinal fluid and underlying cortex resulting in reversal of disease pathology restricted to the periventricular areas. We tested if systemic hyperosmolality would increase the distribution of beta-glucuronidase in brain parenchyma after intraventricular virus injection. Mice were administered mannitol, intraperitoneally, 20 days after gene transfer and 1 day prior to sacrifice. Mannitol-induced systemic hyperosmolality caused a marked penetration of beta-glucuronidase into the brain parenchyma. If mannitol was administered at the time of the intraventricular injection of virus, there was penetration of vector across the ependymal cell layer, with infection of cells in the subependymal region. This also resulted in increased beta-glucuronidase activity throughout the brain. Sections of brains from beta-glucuronidase-deficient mice showed correction of cellular pathology in the subependymal region plus cortical structures away from the ventricular wall. These data indicate that virus-mediated gene transfer to the brain via the ventricles, coupled with systemic mannitol administration, can lead to extensive CNS distribution of beta-glucuronidase with concomitant correction of the storage defect. Our findings have positive therapeutic implications for the treatment of CNS disorders with gene transfer vectors and recombinant proteins.