Tauopathies are characterized by the progressive accumulation of hyperphosphorylated, aggregated forms of tau. Our laboratory has previously demonstrated that passive immunization with an anti-tau antibody, HJ8.5, decreased accumulation of pathological tau in a human P301S tau-expressing transgenic (P301S-tg) mouse model of frontotemporal dementia/tauopathy. To investigate whether the Fc domain of HJ8.5 is required for the therapeutic effect, we engineered single-chain variable fragments (scFvs) derived from HJ8.5 with variable linker lengths, all specific to human tau. Based on different binding properties, we selected two anti-tau scFvs and tested their efficacy in vivo by adeno-associated virus-mediated gene transfer to the brain of P301S-tg mice. The scFvs significantly reduced levels of hyperphosphorylated, aggregated tau in brain tissue of P301S-tg mice, associated with a decrease in detergent-soluble tau species. Interestingly, these mice showed substantial levels of scFvs in the cerebrospinal fluid without significant effects on total extracellular tau levels. Therefore, our study provides a novel strategy for anti-tau immunotherapeutics that potentially limits a detrimental proinflammatory response.