To evaluate the effects of H5 subtype avian influenza DNA vaccine with HA gene and expressive vector optimization, groups of 3-week-old specific pathogen free (SPF) chickens were inoculated intramuscularly with a single dose of 100 μg or 10 μg of pCIHA5, pCAGGHA5, pCIoptiHA5 or pCAGGoptiHA5 in 200 μl volume. Another group of chickens was injected with 200 μl phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) as controls. Sera were collected every week after vaccination to detect the HI and agar-gel precipitin (AGP) antibodies. Four weeks after the single vaccination, all chickens were challenged with 100LD50 of the highly pathogenic A/Goose/GuangDong/1/96(H5N1) [Gs/GD/1/96(H5N1)]. Oropharyngeal and cloacal swab specimens were collected from all chickens 3, 5 and 7 days after inoculation for titration of virus in eggs. Chickens were observed daily for 2 weeks for signs of disease and death. Results showed that in the groups vaccinated with 100 μg pCAGGoptiHA5 and pCAGGHA5 chickens were completely protected from virus challenge (no disease signs, no virus shedding and no deaths), while only partial protection occurred in chickens vaccinated with 100 μg pCIoptiHA5 (75%) and pCIHA5 (50%). In groups vaccinated with 10 μg pCAGGoptiHA5 and pCAGGHA5 chickens were protected from virus challenge (no disease signs and no deaths). In the group vaccinated with 10 μg pCIoptiHA5 the protection ratio was 75%, while chickens vaccinated with 10 μg pCIHA5 all died after challenge. Results indicated that codon usage optimization of the HA gene and β-actin promoter enhanced the protection efficiency of H5 subtype avian influenza DNA vaccine and the construction pCAGGoptiHA5 could protect chickens from lethal H5N1 virus challenge even at the low dose of 10 μg, implying the possibility for the commercialization of an avian influenza DNA vaccine in the near future.