The recent development of living microarrays as novel tools for the analysis of gene expression in an in-situ environment promises to unravel gene function within living organisms. In order to significantly enhance microarray performance, we are working towards electro-responsive DNA transfection chips. This study focuses on the control of DNA adsorption and desorption by appropriate surface modification of highly doped p++ silicon. Silicon was modified by plasma polymerisation of allylamine (ALAPP), a non-toxic surface that sustains cell growth. Subsequent high surface density grafting of poly(ethylene oxide) formed a layer resistant to biomolecule adsorption and cell attachment. Spatially controlled excimer laser ablation of the surface produced micron resolution patterns of re-exposed plasma polymer whilst the rest of the surface remained non-fouling. We observed electro-stimulated preferential adsorption of DNA to the ALAPP surface and subsequent desorption by the application of a negative bias. Cell culture experiments with HEK 293 cells demonstrated efficient and controlled transfection of cells using the expression of green fluorescent protein as a reporter. Thus, these chemically patterned surfaces are promising platforms for use as living microarrays.© (2005) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.