We demonstrate the first use of the violet diode laser for transient mammalian cell transfection. In contrast to previous studies, which showed the generation of stable cell lines over a few weeks, we develop a methodology to transiently transfect cells with an efficiency of up to . Chinese hamster ovary (CHO-K1) and human embryonic kidney (HEK293) cells are exposed to a tightly focused laser in the presence of plasmid DNA encoding for a mitochondrial targeted red fluorescent protein. We report transfection efficiencies as a function of laser power and exposure time for our system. We also show, for the first time, that a continuous wave laser source can be successfully applied to selective gene silencing experiments using small interfering RNA. This work is a major step towards an inexpensive and portable phototransfection system.