INTRODUCTION The positive results of pioneering clinical trials using gene therapy as treatment for patients with Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA) have ushered in a new era of molecular retinal therapeutics for LCA, other blinding retinal disorders and gene therapy applications. AREAS COVERED This review describes the role of retinal pigment epithelium-specific 65 kDa protein (RPE65) in the visual cycle and how RPE65 deficiency results in LCA; the extensive preclinical studies with recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV)-RPE65 gene vectors; and the human rAAV-RPE65 and related gene therapy clinical trials and studies. The literature search included a review of primary sources (e.g., journal articles) that reported study data results and key secondary sources such as meta-reviews available through PubMed, as well as reviews of clinical trial descriptions and results as reported in clinicaltrials.gov, conference publications and news releases. EXPERT OPINION LCA-RPE65 gene therapy is an example of successful, innovative, translational research. Further research is needed regarding how retinal gene therapy can be improved.