Hepatic gene therapy could improve the treatment of many inherited disorders. Although retroviral vectors result in long-term expression in hepatocytes in vivo, their low level of expression currently precludes most clinical applications. Four copies of the liver-specific apolipoprotein E (ApoE) enhancer were placed upstream of the human α1-antitrypsin (hAAT) promoter in either orientation into a retroviral vector with a complete long terminal repeat (LTR) and the hAAT cDNA to generate ApoE(+)hAAT-LTR and ApoE(-)hAAT-LTR. In addition, the ApoAI promoter was placed upstream of the-hAAT cDNA in a similar retroviral vector backbone. Amphotropic retroviral vectors were transferred into regenerating rat liver cells in vivo by intraportal injection. ApoE(-)hAAT-LTR and ApoE(+)hAAT-LTR led to average hAAT levels of 5 μg/ml (0.5% of normal levels of a very abundant protein), and 2.5 μg/ml, respectively, which was stable for at least 10 months after transduction. This level of serum hAAT was >25-fold higher than what was observed from the ApoAI promoter used in this study. Serum levels of hAAT were >15-fold higher than what was observed from retroviral vectors containing the hAAT cDNA that were analyzed previously by this lab. In some cases, improved expression was due to the promoter chosen. In other cases, the increase in expression was primarily due to the higher titers obtained by using a retroviral backbone with an intact LTR as opposed to a vector with a deletion in the LTR. The increased expression levels observed from this enhancer/promoter combination in an intact retroviral backbone may enable one to achieve therapeutic levels of clinically important genes from a retroviral vector in liver cells of animals.