Bead transfection is a simple, rapid, efficient, and cost-effective method of gene transfer into adherent mammalian cells. It involves a brief incubation of the cells with glass beads in a solution containing the DNA to be transferred. We have optimized this technique using COS-7 (an SV40 transformed monkey kidney cell line) and a transient expression assay for chloramphenicol acetyl transferase (CAT). Stable transfection efficiency assessed using the selectable marker gene neomycin phosphotransferase (NEOR) was 27% in COS-7 cells. As this technique delivers high transfection efficiency with little manipulation of the exogenous DNA and does not require the use of any viral sequences, it may be a useful alternative method of gene delivery in the development of gene therapy protocols.