Mucopolysaccharidosis type VII (MPS VII) is a lysosomal storage disease caused by the lack of beta-glucuronidase (GUSB) activity. GUSB deficiency leads to the progressive accumulation of undegraded glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) in cells of most tissues, including the brain, and is associated with mental retardation. Reduction of lysosomal storage in the central nervous system and prevention of cognitive dysfunction may require intracranial delivery of a therapeutic agent during the newborn period that provides a continuous source of GUSB. Therefore, we injected recombinant adeno-associated virus encoding human GUSB into both the anterior cortex and the hippocampus of newborn MPS VII mice. Total GUSB activity in the brain approached normal levels by 18 weeks. Although GUSB activity was concentrated near the injection sites, lysosomal distension was reduced in most areas of the brain. In addition to histopathologic evidence of GAG reduction, the previously undescribed accumulation of GM2 and GM3 gangliosides in the brain was also prevented. Furthermore, GUSB expression and reduced lysosomal distension correlated with improvements in cognitive function as measured in the Morris Water Maze test. These findings indicate that localized overexpression of GUSB has positive effects on the pathology and cognitive function and does not have overt toxicity.