RNA and DNA expression vectors containing genes for chloramphenicol acetyltransferase, luciferase, and beta-galactosidase were separately injected into mouse skeletal muscle in vivo. Protein expression was readily detected in all cases, and no special delivery system was required for these effects. The extent of expression from both the RNA and DNA constructs was comparable to that obtained from fibroblasts transfected in vitro under optimal conditions. In situ cytochemical staining for beta-galactosidase activity was localized to muscle cells following injection of the beta-galactosidase DNA vector. After injection of the DNA luciferase expression vector, luciferase activity was present in the muscle for at least 2 months.