Naked DNA injection with electropermeabilization (EP) is a promising method for nucleic acid vaccination (NAV) and in vivo gene therapy. Skin is an ideal target for NAV due to ease of administration and the accessibility of large numbers of antigen-presenting cells within the tissue. This study demonstrates that in vivo skin EP may be used to increase transgene expression up to an average of 83-fold relative to naked DNA injection (50 microg DNA per dose, P < 0.005). Transfected cells were principally located in dermis and included adipocytes, fibroblasts, endothelial cells, and numerous mononuclear cells with dendritic processes in a porcine model. Transfected cells were also observed in lymph nodes draining electropermeabilized sites. A HBV sAg-coding plasmid was used to test skin EP-mediated NAV in a murine model. Analysis of humoral immune responses including immunoglobulin subclass profiles revealed strong enhancement of EP-mediated NAV relative to naked DNA injection, with a Th1-dominant, mixed-response pattern compared to immunization with HBV sAg protein that was exclusively Th2 (P = 0.02). Applications for these findings include NAV-based modulation of immune responses to pathogens, allergens, and tumor-associated antigens and the modification of tolerance.