Ferrochelatase (EC.184.108.40.206), the final step in the biosynthesis of heme, is widely expressed in various tissues and is induced in erythroid cells. We determined the structure of the mouse ferrochelatase gene after isolation and characterization of lambda phage clones mapping discrete regions of the cDNA. The gene spans about 25 kb and consists of 11 exons. The exon/intron boundary sequences conform to consensus acceptor (GTn)/donor (nAG) sequences, and exons in the gene encode functional protein domains. The promoter region contains multiple Sp1 sites, a CACCC box and GATA-1 binding sites. Function analysis of the promoter by transient transfection assay demonstrated that one Sp1 binding site located at -37/-32 is essential for basic expression of the ferrochelatase gene in both mouse erythroleukemia (MEL) and non-erythroid EL4 cells. In addition, the region (-66/-51) containing a CACCC box and the neighboring GC box partly contributes to the inducible activity of the reporter in MEL cells upon induction with dimethylsulfoxide. It appears that at least two promoter regions of the mouse ferrochelatase gene function in basic and inducible expression.