We investigate the feasibility of using nanosecond pulsed laser-induced stress waves (LISWs) for gene transfer into rat facial muscles. LISWs are generated by irradiating a black natural rubber disk placed on the target tissue with nanosecond pulsed laser light from the second harmonics (532 nm) of a Q-switched Nd:YAG laser, which is widely used in head and neck surgery and proven to be safe. After injection of plasmid deoxyribose nucleic acid (DNA) coding for Lac Z into rat facial muscles, pulsed laser is used to irradiate the laser target on the skin surface without incision or exposure of muscles. Lac Z expression is detected by X-gal staining of excised rat facial skin and muscles. Strong Lac Z expression is observed seven days after gene transfer, and sustained for up to 14 days. Gene transfer is achieved in facial muscles several millimeters deep from the surface. Gene expression is localized to the tissue exposed to LISWs. No tissue damage from LISWs is observed. LISW is a promising nonviral target gene transfer method because of its high spatial controllability, easy applicability, and minimal invasiveness. Gene transfer using LISW to produce therapeutic proteins such as growth factors could be used to treat nerve injury and paralysis.