Chimeric RNA/DNA oligonucleotides ("chimeraplasts") have been shown to induce single base alterations in genomic DNA both in vitro and in vivo. The mdx mouse strain has a point mutation in the dystrophin gene, the consequence of which is a muscular dystrophy resulting from deficiency of the dystrophin protein in skeletal muscle. To test the feasibility of chimeraplast-mediated gene therapy for muscular dystrophies, we used a chimeraplast (designated "MDX1") designed to correct the point mutation in the dystrophin gene in mdx mice. After direct injection of MDX1 into muscles of mdx mice, immunohistochemical analysis revealed dystrophin-positive fibers clustered around the injection site. Two weeks after single injections into tibialis anterior muscles, the maximum number of dystrophin-positive fibers (approximately 30) in any muscle represented 1-2% of the total number of fibers in that muscle. Ten weeks after single injections, the range of the number of dystrophin-positive fibers was similar to that seen after 2 wk, suggesting that the expression was stable, as would be predicted for a gene-conversion event. Staining with exon-specific antibodies showed that none of these were "revertant fibers." Furthermore, dystrophin from MDX1-injected muscles was full length by immunoblot analysis. No dystrophin was detectable by immunohistochemical or immunoblot analysis after control chimeraplast injections. Finally, reverse transcription-PCR analysis demonstrated the presence of transcripts with the wild-type dystrophin sequence only in mdx muscles injected with MDX1 chimeraplasts. These results provide the foundation for further studies of chimeraplast-mediated gene therapy as a therapeutic approach to muscular dystrophies and other genetic disorders of muscle.