Giardia lamblia is a flagellated protozoan that infects several species including humans and is a major agent of waterborne outbreaks of diarrhea. G. lamblia is also important in the study of basic eukaryotic molecular biology and evolution; however, it has been difficult to employ standard genetic methods in the study of Giardia. Over the past 6 years, two transfection systems were developed and used for the genetic manipulation of G. lamblia. Both systems allow transient or stable transfection of Giardia and/or foreign genes. The DNA-based transfection system allows electroporation of circular or linear plasmid DNA into trophozoites. The RNA virus-based transfection system requires electroporation of in vitro transcribed RNA into GLV-infected trophozoites. Because G. lamblia is one of the most rudimentary eukaryotes, its processes of transcription, translation and protein transport, as well as its metabolic and biochemical pathways, are of interest. Study of these areas will continue to be advanced using transfection in combination with cellular and molecular tools. Several groups have combined these technologies with other techniques to study protein transport and the transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation of Giardia genes, including encystation-specific and variant surface protein genes. In addition, coupling antisense techniques with transfection has permitted functional knockout of Giardia metabolic genes, allowing Giardia metabolic pathways to be studied. In the near future, both transfection systems will be potent tools in our investigations of the perplexing questions in Giardia biology.