We have investigated the efficacy of a gene transfer strategy based on plasmid DNA electroinjection for the correction of anemia associated with renal failure. An expression plasmid encoding the rat erythropoietin (EPO) cDNA under the control of the CMV promoter as constructed and utilized for this work. Electroinjection of pCMV/rEPO in different rat muscles yielded sustained and long-term EPO production and secretion. The muscle-produced EPO corrected the anemia in five of six nephrectomized rats, used as a model of renal failure. The efficiency of muscle transduction was comparable in rats and mice injected with equivalent amounts of DNA per kilogram of body weight. These results demonstrate that gene electrotransfer can be applied to produce therapeutically significant levels of erythropoietin in chronic renal failure.