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Cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) such as HIV's trans-activating transcriptional activator (TAT) and polyarginine rapidly pass through the plasma membranes of mammalian cells by an unknown mechanism called transduction. They may be medically useful when fused to well-chosen chains of fewer than about 35 amino acids. The author offers a simple model of transduction in which phosphatidylserines and CPPs effectively form two plates of a capacitor with a voltage sufficient to cause the formation of transient pores (electroporation). The model is consistent with experimental data on the transduction of oligoarginine into mouse C2C12 myoblasts and makes three testable predictions.