Treatment of atrophic nonunions is a challenge to orthopaedic surgeons. Growth factors potentially are valuable factors for improvement of tissue healing. The use of growth factors, however, is limited by their short half-lives. Gene therapy has the potential to improve the treatment. This study aimed to establish and validate an atrophic nonunion model in a rabbit for the use of a percutaneous in vivo gene therapy protocol. An atrophic tibial nonunion was established in 24 New Zealand White rabbits. Radiologic and histologic followup was for 64 weeks. The rabbit tibias showed no radiologic or histologic signs of healing. In addition, an adenoviral vector carrying a marker gene was injected percutaneously into the nonunion site in 12 rabbits. Expression of the marker gene was assessed for as many as 4 weeks. The percutaneous gene delivery resulted in transgene expression in the nonunion site for as many as 4 weeks. The described model reliably leads to an atrophic tibial nonunion in rabbits. Adenoviral percutaneous gene delivery into the nonunion site is feasible and leads to transgene expression locally for at least 1 month. This study provides investigators with a reliable and reproducible model of an atrophic nonunion.