Adenovirus (AdV)-mediated gene expression of immune stimulators represents a valuable in vivo approach for gene therapy of human cancer. The expression level of the therapeutic gene is of crucial importance for the efficacy of this type of treatment. Entry of AdV is dependent on the primary adenovirus receptor CAR and the secondary AdV receptor identified earlier to be a member of the integrin family of surface molecules. We have analyzed 14 different human melanoma cell cultures from different stages together with one melanoma cell line for their AdV-mediated transduction and expression efficiency. Recombinant viruses at various concentrations were used for expression of the B7-1 costimulatory molecule under the control of different promoters and the expression levels of B7-1 were analyzed by flow cytometry. AdV-mediated IL-12 expression was measured using a commercial ELISA. Levels of transgene expression were compared with the expression levels of HCAR, the alpha(v)beta3 and alpha(v)beta5 integrins, and HLA class I. In 4 of 14 cell cultures tested, the presence of the primary virus receptor CAR was associated with the high transduction efficiency phenotype when using the B7-1- and IL-12-expressing viruses at a relatively low multiplicity of infection (MOI) of 50. Immunohistochemistry on cryosections from the original biopsies yielded a strong signal specific for CAR. In contrast, cell cultures expressing low or undetectable levels of CAR needed a 20- to 40-fold higher viral input to show comparable expression level of B7-1 or IL-12. Expression levels of the transgenes hardly varied when using different promoters and no association was observed with the presence or absence of HLA class I molecules or with the expression levels of integrins.