A recombinant adenovirus (Ad) expressing Cre recombinase derived from bacteriophage P1 was constructed. To assay the Cre activity in mammalian cells, another recombinant Ad bearing an on/off-switching reporter unit, where a LacZ-expression unit can be activated by the Cre-mediated excisional deletion of an interposed stuffer DNA, was also constructed. Co-infection experiments together with the Cre-expressing and the reporter recombinant Ads showed that the Cre-mediated switching of gene expression was detected in nearly 100% of cultured CV1, HeLa and Jurkat cells. These results suggest that the recombinant Ad efficiently expressed functional Cre and offers a basis for establishing a powerful on/off switching strategy of gene expression in cultured mammalian cells and presumably in transgenic animals. The method is also applicable to construction of recombinant Ad bearing a gene the expression of which is deleterious to propagation of recombinant Ad.