We have characterized steroid response elements in mouse mammary tumour virus (MMTV) by transient transfection. Four partial inverted repeats of the sequence TGTTCT function as response elements for androgen, as well as for glucocorticoid and progestins, although the relative hormone inductions mediated by each oligonucleotide were different. Mutational analysis of the left half of the palindrome showed that a perfect dyad symmetry is not required for optimum activity as a steroid response element. To investigate potential interactions between steroid receptors and transcription factors we have analysed the minimum sequence requirements for a hormone response. Interestingly, a single 15 bp steroid response element and a TATA box are sufficient for steroid inductions. When the distance between the two elements was increased by up to two turns of the helix the hormone induction initially increased and then gradually declined with no obvious periodicity.