We report here the identification of thyroid hormone response elements (TREs) that consist of a direct repeat, not a palindrome, of the half-sites. Unlike palindromic TREs, direct repeat TREs do not confer a retinoic acid response. The tandem TRE can be converted into a retinoic acid response element by increasing the spacing between the half-sites by 1 nucleotide, and the resulting retinoic acid response element is no longer a TRE. Decreasing the half-site spacing by 1 nucleotide converts the TRE to a vitamin D3 response element, while eliminating response to T3. These results correlate well with DNA-binding affinities of the thyroid hormone, retinoic acid, and vitamin D3 receptors. This study points to the general importance of tandem repeat hormone response elements and suggests a simple physiologic code exists in which half-site spacing plays a critical role in achieving selective hormonal response.