Adenoviral vectors have been utilized for a variety of gene therapy applications. Our group has incorporated bioluminescent, fluorographic reporters, and/or suicide genes within the adenovirus genome for analytical and/or therapeutic purposes. These molecules have also been incorporated as capsid components. Recognizing that incorporations at either locale yield potential advantages and disadvantages, our report evaluates the benefits of transgene incorporation versus capsid incorporation. To this end, we have genetically incorporated firefly luciferase within the early region 3 or at minor capsid protein IX and compared vector functionality by means of reporter readout. © 2010 Li et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.