We scrutinized the applicability and efficacy of Sendai virus (SeV) vectors expressing either LacZ or human insulin-like growth factor-I (hIGF-I) in gene transfer into skeletal muscle. Seven days after the intramuscular injection of LacZ/SeV X-gal labeled myofibers were demonstrated in rat anterior tibialis muscle with/without bupivacaine treatment and the transgene expression persisted up to 1 month after injection. Recombinant hIGF-I was detected as a major protein species in culture supernatants of a neonatal rat myoblast cell line L6 and thus induced the cells to undergo myogenetic differentiation. The introduction of hIGF-I/SeV into the muscle showed a significant increase in regenerating and split myofibers which were indicative of hypertrophy, and also an increase in the total number of myofibers, in comparison to that seen in the LacZ/SeV-treated control muscle. These results demonstrate that SeV achieves high-level transgene expression in skeletal muscle, and that hIGF-I gene transfer using SeV vector may therefore have great potential in the treatment of neuromuscular disorders.