Downstream in-frame start codons produce amino-terminal-truncated human constitutive androstane receptor protein isoforms (DeltaNCARs). The DeltaNCARs are expressed in liver and in vitro cell systems following translation from in-frame methionine AUG start codons at positions 76, 80, 125, 128, 168 and 265 within the full-length CAR mRNA. The resulting CAR proteins lack the N-terminal DNA-binding domain (DBD) of the receptor, yielding DeltaNCAR variants with unique biological function. Although the DeltaNCARs maintain full retinoid X receptor alpha (RXRalpha) heterodimerization capacity, the DeltaNCARs are inactive on classical CAR-inducible direct repeat (DR)-4 elements, yet efficiently transactivate a DR-1 element derived from the endogenous PPAR-inducible acyl-CoA oxidase gene promoter. RXRalpha heterodimerization with CAR1, CAR76 and CAR80 isoforms is necessary for the DR-1 PPRE activation, a function that exhibits absolute dependence on both the respective RXRalpha DBD and CAR activation (AF)-2 domains, but not the AF-1 or AF-2 domain of RXRalpha, nor CAR's DBD. A new model of CAR DBD-independent transactivation is proposed, such that in the context of a DR-1 peroxisome proliferator-activated response element, only the RXRalpha portion of the CAR-RXRalpha heterodimer binds directly to DNA, with the AF-2 domain of tethered CAR mediating transcriptional activation of the receptor complex.