We have explored a novel strategy for controlling the infectivity of adenoviral vectors. This strategy involves a method whereby the infectivity of adenoviral vectors is neutralized by treatment of viral particles with a water-soluble, photocleavable biotinylation reagent. These modified viral vectors possess little to no infectivity for target cells. Exposure of these modified viral vectors to 365 nm light induces a reversal of the neutralizing, chemical modification, resulting in restoration of infectivity to the viral vectors. The light-directed transduction of target cells by photoactivatable adenoviral vectors was demonstrated successfully both in vitro and in vivo. This photochemical infectivity trigger possesses great potential, both as a research tool and as a novel tactic for the delivery of gene-transfer agents, since the infectivity of adenoviral vectors can be controlled externally in a versatile manner.