Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a common, serious, inherited disease. The major cause of mortality in CF is lung disease, due to the failure of airway epithelial cells to express a functional product of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene. A potential treatment for CF lung disease is the expression of CFTR in the airways following gene transfer. We have undertaken a double-blinded, placebo-controlled, clinical study of the transfer of the CFTR cDNA to the nasal epithelium of 12 CF patients. Cationic liposomes complexed with plasmid containing the human CFTR cDNA were administered to eight patients, whilst four patients received placebo. Biopsies of the nasal epithelium taken 7 days after dosing were normal. No significant changes in clinical parameters were observed. Functional expression of CFTR assessed by in vivo nasal potential difference measurements showed transient correction of the CF chloride transport abnormality in two patients (15 days after dosing in one patient). Fluorescence microscopy demonstrated CFTR function ex vivo. In cells from nasal brushings. In total, evidence of functional CFTR gene transfer was obtained in six out of the eight treated patients. These results provide proof of concept for liposome-mediated CF gene transfer.