Schwann cells (SCs) in an injured peripheral nerve form pathways for regenerating axons. Although these cells initially support regeneration, SCs lose their pro-regenerative properties following a prolonged period of denervation. Gene transfer to SC can enhance their therapeutic potential. In this article, we compared adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors based on serotypes 1-9 for their capability to transduce cultured primary rat and human SCs and nerve segments. AAV1 is the best serotype to transduce rat SCs, whereas AAV2 and AAV6 performed equally well in human SCs. Transduction of monolayers of cultured rat and human SCs did not accurately predict the transduction efficiency in nerve segments. Rat nerve segments could be genetically modified equally well by a set of four AAV vectors (AAV1, AAV5, AAV7, AAV9), whereas AAV2 was superior in human nerve segments. The current experiments were undertaken as a first step towards future clinical implementation of ex vivo AAV-based gene therapy in surgical nerve repair. The transduction of rat and human SCs and nerve segments by entirely different AAV serotypes, as documented here, highlights one of the challenges of translating gene therapy from experimental animals to human patients.