The c-fos proto-oncogene is rapidly and transiently induced by a variety of extracellular stimuli. We have previously shown that conditioned media from v-sis transformed NRK cells rapidly induces a DNA binding protein which binds to a conserved sequence upstream of the human c-fos gene. We now show that purified recombinant c-sis/PDGF can induce this binding activity which we have termed SIF, for sis-inducible factor. Oligonucleotides which bind to the SIF protein will confer sis/PDGF inducibility onto a truncated, unresponsive c-fos promoter. However, sequences lying between -100 and -57 of the c-fos gene are required for this induction. The sis-responsive element functions independently of a region of dyad symmetry previously identified as the serum responsive element (SRE). The time course of c-fos expression driven by the sis-responsive element is similar to that mediated by the SRE. Unlike the SRE, which can respond to signals generated by sis/PDGF, serum or phorbol esters, the SIF binding element mediates c-fos induction only in response to sis/PDGF. The SRE and SIF elements function in an additive manner to stimulate the transcription of the c-fos gene in response to sis/PDGF.