Gene therapy for cystic fibrosis (CF) would ideally be accomplished with a vector capable of long-term expression of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) in the absence of a host inflammatory response. Recombinant adeno-associated virus (AAV)-CFTR vectors possess these characteristics in rabbits. Because the utility of AAV vectors as gene transfer agents has only been recognized recently, AAV vector-mediated transduction has never been modeled in a primate host, which is an important step before its use in humans. In order to test the safety and biological activity of AAV-CFTR, single doses of AAV-CFTR vector were administered by fiberoptic bronchoscopy to the posterior basal segment of the right lower lobe (RLL) of the lungs of 10 rhesus macaques with four matched vehicle-treated controls. Animals were followed for 10, 21, 90 or 180 days following vector instillation. Vector DNA transfer occurred in bronchial epithelial cells in the RLL of each animal that received vector as assessed by in situ DNA PCR. Vector mRNA was detectable for 180 days after administration as detected by RT-PCR and by RNase protection assay. Safety of vector administration was determined by measurements of pulmonary mechanics, arterial blood gas analysis, chest radiographs, and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid analysis including cell count and quantification of inflammatory cytokines. Gross and microscopic pathologic examination were also performed. There was no evidence of inflammation or other toxicity, although vector DNA was found in extrapulmonary organs of some animals. These results indicate that transduction of the primate airway epithelium with the AAV-CFTR mediates long-term CFTR cDNA transfer and is relatively safe.