The phenotypic alteration of interstitial fibroblasts into 'myofibroblasts', acquiring characteristics of both fibroblasts and smooth muscle cells is a key event in the formation of tubulointerstitial fibrosis. The up-regulation of the early growth response gene 1 (Egr-1) preceded the increased interstitial expression of alpha-smooth muscle actin (alphaSMA), a marker of phenotypic changes, in obstructed kidney, a model of interstitial fibrosis. To target Egr-1 expression in the interstitium of obstructed kidneys, we introduced a DNA enzyme for Egr-1 (ED5) or scrambled DNA (SCR) into interstitial fibroblasts by electroporation-mediated gene transfer. Northern blot analysis confirmed an increase in the cortical mRNA expression of Egr-1 in the obstructed kidneys from untreated or SCR-treated rats, while ED5 transfection blocked Egr-1 expression with a concomitant reduction in TGF-beta, alphaSMA and type I collagen mRNA expression. Consequently, ED5 inhibited interstitial fibrosis. In conclusion, electroporation-mediated retrograde gene transfer can be an ideal vehicle into interstitial fibroblasts, and molecular intervention of Egr-1 in the interstitium may become a new therapeutic strategy for interstitial fibrosis.