We investigated the effectiveness of in vivo electrogene transfer as a means of therapy in rat urinary bladder carcinoma and in mammary carcinoma models in both athymic and syngeneic mice using the herpes simplex virus 1 thymidine kinase (HSVtk) or IL-12 genes in combination with ganciclovir (GCV). A significant increase in the levels of tissue apoptosis and necrosis was induced with a single injection of HSVtk vector directly into bladder and mammary tumors followed by in vivo transfection and a regimen of intraperitoneal GCV injection. This procedure induced significant selective tumor cell death, characterized by marked inflammation and peripheral macrophage influx. Active caspase-3 was also strongly expressed in areas of cell death, indicating the initiation of apoptosis. This result was confirmed in corollary in vitro studies on a mouse bladder carcinoma cell line in which elevated caspase-3, -8, and -9 activities and decreased mitochondrial membrane potential were observed as a result of transfection with HSVtk and addition of GCV to the medium. In the syngeneic mouse mammary cancer model, we additionally found both tumor volume and metastasis to lymph nodes and lungs to be significantly reduced throughout the 2-month experiment. However, in contrast to their syngeneic counterparts, HSVtk/GCV therapy did not effectively inhibit mammary tumor growth/metastasis in an athymic mouse model, leading us to believe that T-cell-mediated immune responses may participate via the bystander effect in HSVtk/GCV experimental therapy. We subsequently evaluated the antitumor activity of IL-12, which can activate T-cell-mediated immune responses involving macrophages, in the syngeneic mammary tumors and found that IL-12 also significantly suppressed mammary tumor growth and metastasis. We thus suggest that in vivo electrogene transfer is a useful transfection tool in cancer gene therapy and, in addition, we show that T-cell-mediated immune responses may be a critical factor in cancer gene therapy using HSVtk/GCV and IL-12.