Background: Gene-based therapy is a new paradigm for the treatment of Parkinson disease (PD) and offers considerable promise for precise targeting and flexibility to impact multiple pathobiological processes for which small molecule agents are not available. Some success has been achieved utilizing adeno-associated virus for this approach, but it is likely that the characteristics of this vector system will ultimately create barriers to progress in clinical therapy. Adenovirus (Ad) vector overcomes limitations in payload size and targeting. The cellular tropism of Ad serotype 5 (Ad5)-based vectors is regulated by the Ad attachment protein binding to its primary cellular receptor, the coxsackie and adenovirus receptor (CAR). Many clinically relevant tissues are refractory to Ad5 infection due to negligible CAR levels but can be targeted by tropism- modified, CAR-independent forms of Ad. Our objective was to evaluate the role of CAR protein in transduction of dopamine (DA) neurons in vivo. Methodology/Principal Findings: Ad5 was delivered to the substantia nigra (SN) in wild type (wt) and CAR transgenic animals. Cellular tropism was assessed by immunohistochemistry (IHC) in the SN and striatal terminals. CAR expression was assessed by western blot and IHC. We found in wt animals, Ad5 results in robust transgene expression in astrocytes and other non-neuronal cells but poor infection of DA neurons. In contrast, in transgenic animals, Ad5 infects SNc neurons resulting in expression of transduced protein in their striatal terminals. Western blot showed low CAR expression in the ventral midbrain of wt animals compared to transgenic animals. Interestingly, hCAR protein localizes with markers of post- synaptic structures, suggesting synapses are the point of entry into dopaminergic neurons in transgenic animals. Conclusions/Significance: These findings demonstrate that CAR deficiency limits infection of wild type DA neurons by Ad5 and provide a rationale for the development of tropism-modified, CAR-independent Ad-vectors for use in gene therapy of human PD. © 2010 Lewis et al.