Gene therapy using highly functional microdystrophin genes and recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) vectors is an attractive strategy to treat DMD. Here we show that locoregional and systemic delivery of a rAAV2/8 vector expressing a canine microdystrophin (cMD1) is effective in restoring dystrophin expression and stabilizing clinical symptoms in studies performed on a total of 12 treated golden retriever muscular dystrophy (GRMD) dogs. Locoregional delivery induces high levels of microdystrophin expression in limb musculature and significant amelioration of histological and functional parameters. Systemic intravenous administration without immunosuppression results in significant and sustained levels of microdystrophin in skeletal muscles and reduces dystrophic symptoms for over 2 years. No toxicity or adverse immune consequences of vector administration are observed. These studies indicate safety and efficacy of systemic rAAV-cMD1 delivery in a large animal model of DMD, and pave the way towards clinical trials of rAAV–microdystrophin gene therapy in DMD patients.