Immunotherapies designed to treat neurodegenerative tauopathies that primarily engage extracellular tau may have limited efficacy as tau is primarily intracellular. We generated tau-targeting single-chain variable fragments (scFvs) and intrabodies (iBs) from the phosphorylated tau-specific antibodies CP13 and PHF1 and the pan-tau antibody Tau5. Recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) was utilized to express these antibody fragments in homozygous JNPL3 P301L tau mice. Two iBs (CP13i, PHF1i) and one scFv (PHF1s) abrogated tau pathology and delayed time to severe hindlimb paralysis. In a second tauopathy model (rTg4510), CP13i and PHF1i reduced tau pathology, but cognate scFvs did not. These data demonstrate that (1) disease-modifying efficacy does not require antibody effector functions, (2) the intracellular targeting of tau with phosphorylated tau-specific iBs is more effective than extracellular targeting with the scFvs, and (3) robust effects on tau pathology before neurodegeneration only resulted in modest disease modification as assessed by delay of severe motor phenotype.Copyright © 2020 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.