A synthetic polyamino polymer with a glucose backbone was used for gene transfer in vitro and in vivo. Gene transfer in vitro to various human carcinoma cell lines was achieved with an efficiency superior to a commercially available cationic liposome preparation. The polymer was resistant to inhibition by serum, which allowed for efficient gene transfer in vivo. Direct intracranial tumor injection using this reagent resulted in reporter gene expression levels comparable to those achieved by a recombinant adenoviral vector. Thus, this compound represents a new class of agent that may have broad utility for gene transfer and gene therapy applications. © 1997 Nature Publishing Group.