Recombinant viral vectors derived from adeno-associated virus serotype 2 (rAAV2) have been investigated as highly effective vehicles for gene transfer to the central nervous system (CNS). Transduction with rAAV2 vectors results in long-term transgene expression in CNS neurons. Optimal injection parameters leading to efficient targeting and spread of the transgene to large neuroanatomical regions are important in molecular gene therapy studies of the CNS. In the present study, we reexamined the effects of both local and systemic administration of mannitol-induced hyperosmolality on facilitation of transgene expression and vector distribution in the CNS. Systemic intraperitoneal administration of mannitol prior to vector administration improved gene transfer to striatal neurons, increasing the total number of transduced cells by 400% and vector distribution by 200%. On the other hand, local coadministration of mannitol in the striatum increased the number of transduced striatal neurons by 25% and had little effect on transduction volume. In conclusion, we have demonstrated that systemic coadministration of mannitol significantly enhances transgene spread of rAAV2 viral delivery in the brain to a much greater degree than local coadministration.