In this report, a replication-defective herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) vector has been employed to deliver the Escherichia coli LacZ and HSV thymidine kinase (HSVtk) genes to six human ovarian carcinoma cell lines and the efficacy of gene transfer compared to that of adenoviral vectors in vitro. The transduction efficiency of the LacZ-containing virus TOZ.1 was evaluated qualitatively and quantitatively following infection of the different ovarian cancer cell lines. The therapeutic ability of the HSV-T3 vector, which contains the HSVtk gene, was additionally investigated in comparison to the AdCMVHSVTK. Our results show that HSV-1-mediated gene transfer is quantitatively superior to adenoviral vector in five of the six ovarian cancer cell lines at a 100-fold lower dose in vitro. Our preliminary studies suggest that HSV-1 may be a promising alternative vector for ovarian cancer gene therapy.