Standard integration-proficient lentiviral vectors (IPLVs) are effective at much lower doses than other vector systems and have shown promise for gene therapy of Parkinson's disease (PD). Their main drawback is the risk of insertional mutagenesis. The novel biosafety-enhanced integration-deficient lentiviral vectors (IDLVs) may offer a significant enhancement in biosafety, but have not been previously tested in a model of a major disease. We have assessed biosafety and transduction efficiency of IDLVs in a rat model of PD, using IPLVs as a reference. Genomic insertion of lentivectors injected into the lesioned striatum was studied by linear amplification-mediated polymerase chain reaction (PCR), followed by deep sequencing and insertion site analysis, demonstrating lack of significant IDLV integration. Reporter gene expression studies showed efficient, long-lived, and transcriptionally targeted expression from IDLVs injected ahead of lesioning in the rat striatum, although at somewhat lower expression levels than from IPLVs. Transgenic human glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (hGDNF) expression from IDLVs was used for a long-term investigation of lentivector-mediated, transcriptionally targeted neuroprotection in this PD rat model. Vectors were injected before striatal lesioning, and the results showed improvements in nigral dopaminergic neuron survival and behavioral tests regardless of lentiviral integration proficiency, although they confirmed lower expression levels of hGDNF from IDLVs. These data demonstrate the effectiveness of IDLVs in a model of a major disease and indicate that these vectors could provide long-term PD treatment at low dose, combining efficacy and biosafety for targeted central nervous system applications.