The systemic delivery of recombinant adenoviral (rAd) vectors to renal glomeruli has been problematic due to the rapid clearance of the circulating virus by the liver. We have previously shown that prolonged retention of rAd vectors in the circulation by liver bypass improves the transduction of renal glomerular cells in adult mice and rats. This study was done to determine whether newborn mice have a delayed clearance of rAd vectors from the circulation and a more efficient transduction of glomerular cells after a systemic injection of rAd vectors. Newborn (1 day old) and adult (6 months old) C57Bl6/J mice ( n = 20 in each group) were injected with rAd vectors carrying the lacZ gene (rAd.lacZ) through the retro-orbital venous plexus (2 x 10(9 )particles/g body weight). The renal expression of Coxsackie and Adenoviral Receptors (CAR) and lacZ gene were evaluated at different time points by Western blots, immunohistochemistry, beta-galactosidase staining, enzyme assay activity, and RT-PCR studies in newborn and adult mice. The clearance rate of rAd.lacZ was significantly delayed in newborn mice, and the concentration of circulating virus in these mice was almost ten times higher than that in adult mice. Newborn kidneys showed increased expression of CAR, predominately localized in glomerular cells. These findings were associated with an efficient gene transfer of the lacZ gene into glomeruli and tubules of newborn mice. This study demonstrates for the first time the feasibility of using systemic intravenous injections of rAd vectors to express foreign genes in developing glomeruli of young mice.