The renal enzyme 25-hydroxyvitamin D 1alpha-hydroxylase (CYP27B1), responsible for the synthesis of circulating. 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (1,25D), is also expressed in a number of non-renal tissues. The regulation of CYP27B1 expression by the short flanking promoter outside the kidney is, however, largely unknown. We have used a transgenic mice expressing the 1.5kb promoter of the human CYP27B1 gene fused to the firefly luciferase gene in order to investigate tissue-specific CYP27B1 expression. These transgenic animals demonstrated co-localised luciferase and endogenous CYP27B1 expression in kidney proximal convoluted tubular cells. Strong co-expression of luciferase and CYP27B1 also occurred in neurons and Purkinje cells of the cerebellum and in Leydig and Sertoli cells of the testes. Other tissues to exhibit CYP27B1-promoter directed luciferase activity included lung, prostate, trabecular bone and jejunum as well as the choroid epithelium. The tissue specific changes in luciferase activity were age-related. These findings demonstrate that the proximal 1.5kb 5' flanking region of the CYP27B1 gene directs the expression of CYP27B1 in a number of known and novel tissues in a specific manner.