Amplification or overexpression of HER-2/neu in human lung cancer has been correlated with poor prognosis and chemoresistance. We have previously reported that the adenovirus type 5 early region 1A (E1A) gene product can suppress HER-2/neu-mediated transformation phenotypes through inhibition of HER-2/neu expression. To find an efficient way to treat HER-2/neu-overexpressing lung cancer with E1A, a replication-deficient adenovirus containing the E1A gene, Ad.E1A(+), was used to transduce E1A into HER-2/neu-overexpressing and low expressing human lung cancer cell lines. Tumour cell growth in vitro and colony formation in soft agarose were greatly inhibited by Ad.E1A(+) transduction in HER-2/neu-overexpressing lung cancer cell lines. In HER-2/neu low expressing cell lines, E1A could not inhibit cell growth in vitro but could reduce the colony formation ability in soft agarose, indicating different effects of E1A in these two types of cancer cells. To test the therapeutic efficacy of E1A to lung cancer by systemic delivery in vivo, tumor-bearing mice were established by intratracheal injection of lung cancer cells and treated by i.v. tail injections of Ad.E1A(+). As a result, Ad.E1A(+) suppressed HER-2/neu overexpression and inhibited intratracheal lung cancer growth. However, no significant tumor suppression effect of Ad.E1A(+) was observed in mice bearing HER-2/neu low expressing cell line when the same therapeutic procedure was followed. Thus, we conclude that systemic delivery of Ad.E1A(+) can efficiently achieve therapeutic effect in HER-2/neu-overexpressing lung cancer in vivo.