We have earlier shown that antisense morpholino oligomers are able to restore dystrophin expression by systemic delivery in body-wide skeletal muscles of dystrophic mdx mice. However, the levels of dystrophin expression vary considerably and, more importantly, no dystrophin expression has been achieved in cardiac muscle. In this study, we investigate the efficiency of morpholino-induced exon skipping in cardiomyoblasts and myocytes in vitro, and in cardiac muscle in vivo by dose escalation. We showed that morpholino induces targeted exon skipping equally effectively in both skeletal muscle myoblasts and cardiomyoblasts. Effective exon skipping was achieved in cardiomyocytes in culture. In the mdx mice, morpholino rescues dystrophin expression dose dependently in both skeletal and cardiac muscles. Therapeutic levels of dystrophin were achieved in cardiac muscle albeit at higher doses than in skeletal muscles. Up to 50 and 30% normal levels of dystrophin were induced by single systemic delivery of 3 g kg(-1) of morpholino in skeletal and cardiac muscles, respectively. High doses of morpholino treatment reduced the serum levels of creatine kinase without clear toxicity. These findings suggest that effective rescue of dystrophin in cardiac muscles can be achieved by morpholino for the treatment of Duchenne muscular dystrophy.