Single chain antibodies (scFv) represent powerful interventional agents for the achievement of targeted therapeutics. The practical utility of these agents have been limited, however, by difficulties related to production of recombinant scFv and the achievement of effective and sustained levels of scFv in situ. To circumvent these limitations, we have developed an approach to express scFv in vivo. An anti-erbB2 scFv was engineered for secretion by eukaryotic cells. The secreted scFv could bind to its target and specifically suppress cell growth of erbB2-positive cells in vitro. Adenoviral vectors expressing the cDNA for the secretory scFv likewise could induce target cells to produce an anti-tumor anti-erbB2 scFv. In vivo gene transfer via the anti-erbB2 scFv encoding adenovirus also showed anti-tumor effects. Thus, by virtue of engineering a secreted version of the anti-tumor anti-erbB-2 scFv, and in vivo expression via adenoviral vector, effective concentrations of scFv were achieved. In vivo gene transfer clearly represents a powerful means to realize effective scFv-based approaches. This method will likely have applicability for a range of disorders amenable to targeted therapeutic approaches.