A gene-directed enzyme pro-drug therapy (GDEPT) based on purine nucleoside phosphorylase (PNP), that converts the prodrug, fludarabine to 2-fluoroadenine, has been described, but studies are limited compared with other GDEPTs. We investigated the in vitro and in vivo efficacies of PNP-GDEPT for treating androgen-independent (AI) prostate cancer. The PNP gene controlled by Rous sarcoma virus (RSV) constitutive promoter was delivered using a recombinant ovine adenovirus vector (OAdV220) that uses a different receptor from human adenovirus type 5. In vitro, OAdV220 provided increased transgene expression over a comparable human Ad5 vector in infected AI, murine RM1 prostate cancer cells. Subsequent in vivo testing was therefore confined to OAdV220. Transduction of RM1 cells with OAdV220 before implantation in immunocompetent mice dramatically inhibited subcutaneous (s.c.) tumor growth when fludarabine phosphate was administered systemically and increased mouse survival in a dose-dependent manner. In tumor-bearing C57BL/6 mice, a single intratumoral injection of OAdV220 produced detectable PNP activity for at least 6 days and with prodrug, retarded the growth of aggressive RM1 s.c. tumors by 35% at day 14. There was a consistent trend to reduction of pre-established intraprostatic RM1 tumors. A similar regimen induced significant therapeutic efficacy in human PC3 xenografts. Thus, ovine adenovirus-mediated GDEPT using the PNP system was effective in vivo against AI prostate cancers, the aggressive murine RM1, and the human PC3 lines. Methods that improve viral dissemination and stimulate the immune system in vivo may further improve efficacy.