The ocular environment has been shown to induce tolerance to locally administered antigens. We therefore investigated whether there was a systemic immune response against adenoviral vectors injected into the vitreous of retinoblastoma patients enrolled in a phase 1 clinical trial of adenoviral-mediated thymidine kinase gene transfer. Sections of enucleated eyes were immunostained with antibodies against inflammatory cells. A trend toward increasing numbers of plasma cells, T cells, macrophages, and antigen-presenting cells was observed in the injected subjects' eyes, but systemically, there was no significant increase in the number of adenovirus-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) or in adenovirus neutralizing antibodies. Therefore, in contrast to studies showing significant immunogenicity of Ad-RSVtk following injection into extraocular tumors, injection into the eye produces only a mild local inflammatory response without evidence of systemic cellular or humoral immune responses to adenovirus.