NF-IL6 is a nuclear factor that specifically binds to an IL1-responsive element in the IL-6 gene. In this study the gene encoding NF-IL6 has been cloned by direct screening of a lambda gt11 library using NF-IL6 binding sequence as a ligand. The full-length cDNA encoded a 345 amino acid protein with a potential leucine zipper structure and revealed a high degree of homology to a liver-specific transcriptional factor, C/EBP, at the C-terminal portion. The bacterial fusion protein bound to the CCAAT homology as well as the viral enhancer core sequences as in the case of C/EBP. Recombinant NF-IL6 activated the human IL-6 promoter in a sequence-specific manner. Southern blot analysis demonstrated the high-degree conservation of the NF-IL6 gene through evolution and the existence of several other related genes sharing the DNA-binding domain. NF-IL6 mRNA was normally not expressed, but induced by the stimulation with either LPS, IL-1 or IL-6. Interestingly, NF-IL6 was shown to bind to the regulatory regions for various acute-phase protein genes and several other cytokine genes such as TNF, IL-8 and G-CSF, implying that NF-IL6 has a role in regulation not only for the IL-6 gene but also for several other genes involved in acute-phase reaction, inflammation and hemopoiesis.