Active immunization with fibrillar beta-amyloid peptide (Abeta(42)) as well as passive transfer of anti-Abeta antibodies significantly reduces Abeta plaque deposition, neuritic dystrophy, and astrogliosis in the brain of mutant amyloid precursor protein (APP)-transgenic mice. Although the mechanism(s) of clearance of Abeta from the brain following active or passive immunization remains to be determined, it is clear that anti-Abeta antibodies are critical for clearance. DNA immunization provides an attractive alternative to direct peptide and adjuvant approaches for inducing a humoral response to Abeta. We constructed a DNA minigene with Abeta fused to mouse interleukin-4 (pAbeta(42)-IL-4) as a molecular adjuvant to generate anti-Abeta antibodies and enhance the Th2-type of immune responses. Gene gun immunizations induced primarily IgG1 and IgG2b anti-Abeta antibodies. Fine epitope analysis with overlapping peptides of the Abeta(42) sequence identified the 1-15 region as a dominant B cell epitope. The DNA minigene-induced anti-Abeta antibodies bound to Abeta plaques in brain tissue from an Alzheimer's disease patient demonstrating functional activity of the antibodies and the potential for therapeutic efficacy.