The p73 gene encodes a protein that shares structural and functional homologies with the p53 tumor suppressor protein. To investigate the mechanism of transcriptional regulation of the p73 gene, we isolated a genomic DNA fragment spanning the 5' upstream region of the human p73 gene and characterized the promoter region. Unlike the p53 gene promoter, the human p73 gene promoter contained a putative TATA-box, and did not exhibit any extended homology to the p53 gene. Two CpG islands were located in the 5' upstream region. Transient transfection assays using progressive truncations of the p73 promoter showed that deletion from -119 to +19 relative to exon 1 resulted in a 13- to 20-fold reduction in the p73 promoter activity, suggesting that the elements for basal promoter activity exist in this region, where putative Sp1, AP-2 and Egr-1, 2, 3 sites are located and CpG dinucleotides are especially concentrated.