We have evaluated if ultrasound imaging (US) and various commercially available contrast microbubbles can serve as a non-invasive systemically administered delivery vehicle for site-specific adenoviral-mediated gene transfer in vitro and in vivo. The contrast agents were tested for their ability to enclose and to protect an adenoviral vector carrying the GFP marker gene (Ad-GFP) into the microbubbles. We have also evaluated the ability of the innate immune system to inactivate free adenoviruses as well as unenclosed viruses adsorbed on the surface of the contrast agents and in turn the ability of the microbubbles to enclose and to protect the viral vectors from such agents. In vitro as well as in vivo, innate components of the immune system were able to serve as inactivating agents to clear free viral particles and unenclosed adenoviruses adsorbed on the microbubbles' surface. Systemic delivery of Ad-GFP enclosed into microbubbles in the tail vein of nude mice resulted in specific targeting of the GFP transgene. Both fluorescence microscopy and GFP immunohistochemistry demonstrated US guided specific transduction in the targeted cells only, with no uptake in either heart, lungs or liver using complement-pretreated Ad-GFP microbubbles. This approach enhances target specificity of US microbubble destruction as a delivery vehicle for viral-mediated gene transfer. J. Cell. Physiol. 209: 413–421, 2006. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.