Thrombosis represents a major issue during arterial local delivery. We evaluated the occurrence of thrombosis after adenovirus (Ad)-mediated gene transfer into normal and atherosclerotic arteries. A replication-deficient Ad vector expressing the beta-galactosidase reporter gene (Ad.RSV betagal; 4 x 10(9) PFU) was injected into normal and atherosclerotic arteries (n = 11 in both groups). The contralateral artery received either an Ad vector carrying no transgene (Ad.MLPnull) (n = 7 in both groups, 4 x 10(9) PFU) or vehicle buffer (n = 4 in normal group, n = 8 in atherosclerotic group). Animals were sacrificed 3 days following gene transfer for thrombus detection and assessment of beta-galactosidase activity. Thrombus was absent in normal arteries and in atherosclerotic arteries injected with vehicle buffer only. In contrast, nonocclusive thrombus was present in atherosclerotic arteries injected with either Ad.RSV betagal (5 of 11) or Ad.MLPnull (3 of 7). Beta-galactosidase activity was predominantly found in the endothelial layer of the transfected arteries. Gene transfer and expression occurred despite the presence of the thrombus (4 of 5), and its efficiency did not significantly differ regardless of the thrombus. We conclude that thrombus frequently occurred in atherosclerotic arteries after Ad-mediated gene transfer. Further studies are warranted to identify the mechanisms of thrombus generation after Ad-mediated gene transfer into atherosclerotic arteries.