BACKGROUND Tyrosine kinase inhibitor gefitinib is effective against lung cancer cells carrying mutant epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR); however, it is not effective against lung cancer carrying normal EGFR. The breaking of immune tolerance against self epidermal growth factor receptor with active immunization may be a useful approach for the treatment of EGFR-positive lung tumors. Xenogeneic EGFR gene was demonstrated to induce antigen-specific immune response against EGFR-expressing tumor with intramuscular administration. METHODS In order to enhance the therapeutic effect of xenogeneic EGFR DNA vaccine, the efficacy of altering routes of administration and formulation of plasmid DNA was evaluated on the mouse lung tumor (LL2) naturally overexpressing endogenous EGFR in C57B6 mice. Three different combination forms were studied, including (1) intramuscular administration of non-coating DNA vaccine, (2) gene gun administration of DNA vaccine coated on gold particles, and (3) gene gun administration of non-coating DNA vaccine. LL2-tumor bearing C57B6 mice were immunized four times at weekly intervals with EGFR DNA vaccine. RESULTS The results indicated that gene gun administration of non-coating xenogenic EGFR DNA vaccine generated the strongest cytotoxicity T lymphocyte activity and best antitumor effects. CD8(+) T cells were essential for anti-tumor immunity as indicated by depletion of lymphocytes in vivo. CONCLUSION Thus, our data demonstrate that administration of non-coating xenogenic EGFR DNA vaccine by gene gun may be the preferred method for treating EGFR-positive lung tumor in the future.