Nonviral gene delivery systems consist predominantly of lipoplexes or receptor-targeting and nontargeting polyplexes. We examined integrin-mediated gene delivery using an Arg-Gly-Asp/oligo-L-lysine ([K]16RGD) cyclic peptide and investigated its gene transfer efficiency when associated with a cationic liposome. We demonstrated that human cystic fibrosis and noncystic fibrosis tracheal epithelial cells in culture express integrins that recognise the RGD integrin-binding motif. We found a 10-fold (P < 0.01) increased expression of a luciferase encoding plasmid in these cells when complexing the plasmid to the [K]16RGD peptide as compared with plasmid alone. This increase was specific to the [K]16RGD peptide since neither a [K]16RGE nor a [K]16 peptide gave a comparable increase. Expression was further enhanced 30-fold (P < 0.01) with lipofectamine and the ratio of DNA/peptide/lipofectamine was critical for specificity and expression. Fluorescence and radioactive labelling of the complex showed that the [K]16RGD peptide increased the endocytic uptake of DNA into cells. The cell association of both DNA and peptide increased even further with lipofectamine. Confocal microscopy showed that the [K]16RGD peptide and the DNA internalised together within 30 min and localised to vesicles in the perinuclear region. These results show that an integrin-binding ligand can deliver genetic material to airway cells and that a cationic liposome can enhance the efficacy of this nonviral vector system.