Chinese hamster ovary cells (CHO) have been extensively utilized as the production platform for therapeutic proteins including monoclonal antibodies in pharmaceutical industry. For early development, it would be advantageous to rapidly produce large amounts of protein in the same cell line; therefore, development of a CHO transient transfection platform with high protein expression level is highly desirable. Here, we describe the development of such a platform in CHO cells. Polyethylenimine (PEI) was used as the transfection reagent. Different media were screened for the best transfection and expression performance, and UltraCHO was chosen as the best performer. DMSO and lithium acetate (LiAc) were discovered to improve CHO transient transfection expression levels significantly. A 14-day fed-batch process was successfully developed to further increase production yield. With an optimized transient transfection process, we were able to express monoclonal antibody (Mab) in CHO cells at a high level, averaging 80 mg/L. The process was successfully scaled up to 10 L working volume in a 20 L wave bioreactor. As expected, the Mabs had similar glycosylation patterns in comparison to the Mabs produced from a stably transfected CHO cell line, while in contrast Mabs expressed transiently from HEK293EBNA cells differed. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2009;103: 542–551. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.