The polycation 1,5-dimethyl-1,5-diazaundecamethylene polymethobromide (polybrene) is superior to calcium phosphate for the introduction of purified DNA into cultured Aedes albopictus (mosquito) cells. Adsorption of the polybrene-DNA complex to mosquito cells was essentially linear for 6 h. However, the rate of adsorption of DNA increased when the DNA-polybrene mixture was preincubated for several hours prior to addition to cells. A recombinant plasmid carrying an inducible chloramphenicol acetyltransferase gene under the control of a Drosophila heat shock protein (hsp) promoter was used to show that expression of transfected DNA was highest when cells were treated with a freshly prepared polybrene-DNA mixture. Optimal expression was observed in cells transfected with 4-13 μg of DNA per 106 cells; transfection with 24 μg of DNA resulted in reduced CAT expression. Variation in the polybrene-DNA ratio improved transfection with high levels of DNA. In mosquito cells, CAT expression was independent of DNA methylation.