We previously demonstrated that electroporation-mediated cytokine gene delivery into muscle is an effective approach for long-term systemic delivery of cytokines. Here we show that hydrodynamics-based gene delivery into mice by intravenous administration of naked plasmid DNA is a more efficient procedure for expressing cytokines in vivo. A large volume of Ringer's solution containing an interleukin-10 (IL-10) expression plasmid pCAGGS-IL10 was rapidly injected into the tail vein of mice. Serum IL-10 levels increased in a dose-dependent manner with a saturation level (50.8 +/- 12.1 microg/ml) 10,000-fold higher than we obtained by the electroporation-mediated method. High levels of serum IL-10 were sustained for at least 2 weeks following a single injection. These results demonstrate that hydrodynamics-based gene delivery could induce sustained high-level expression of cytokines, which would be useful for further studies of cytokine function in vivo and the development of novel immunotherapeutic strategies for systemic cytokine gene therapy.