Butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid, is the major energy fuel for the colonocytes. We have previously reported that monocarboxylate transporter isoform 1 (MCT1) mediates uptake of butyrate by human colonic Caco-2 cells. To better understand the mechanisms of MCT1 expression and regulation in the human intestine, we examined the activity and regulation of MCT1 promoter in Caco-2 cells. The transcription initiation site in the MCT1 promoter was identified as a guanine nucleotide 281 bp upstream from the translation initiation site and is surrounded by a guanine-cytosine-rich area. The promoter was found to be highly active when transfected into Caco-2 cells, and its activity decreased with deletions at its 5'-end. Gel mobility shift experiments showed binding of the transcription factors upstream stimulatory factor (USF)1 and 2 to the site -114 to -119 of the MCT1 promoter. With the use of site-directed mutagenesis and promoter activity in Caco-2 cells, the USF proteins appeared to have a repressor role on the MCT1 promoter, which was further confirmed by cotransfecting expression vectors encoding USF1 and 2 in Caco-2 cells and determining endogenous MCT1 expression in USF2 overexpressed cells. The two potential SP1 binding sites found in the same region of the promoter were found not to be involved in its regulation.