The utility of the present generation of recombinant adenovirus vectors for gene therapy applications could potentially be improved by designing targeted vectors capable of gene delivery to selected cell types in vivo. In order to achieve such targeting, we are investigating the possibilities of incorporation of ligands in the adenovirus fiber protein, which mediates primary binding of adenovirus to its cell surface receptor. Based on the proposed structure of the cell-binding domain of the fiber, we hypothesized that the HI loop of the fiber knob can be utilized as a convenient locale for incorporation of heterologous ligands. In this study, we utilized recombinant fiber proteins expressed in baculovirus-infected insect cells to demonstrate that the incorporation of the FLAG octapeptide into the HI loop does not ablate fiber trimerization and does not disturb formation of the cell- binding site localized in the knob. We then generated a recombinant adenovirus containing this modified fiber and showed that the short peptide sequence engineered in the knob is compatible with the biological functions of the fiber. In addition, by using a ligand-specific antibody, we have shown that the peptide incorporated into the knob remains available for binding in the context of mature virions containing modified fibers. These findings suggest that heterologous ligands can be incorporated into the HI loop of the fiber knob and that this locale possesses properties consistent with its employment in adenovirus retargeting strategies.