Two glucocorticoid response elements (GREs) located 2.5 kb upstream of the transcription initiation site of the tyrosine aminotransferase gene were identified by gene transfer experiments and shown to bind to purified glucocorticoid receptor. Although the proximal GRE has no inherent capacity by itself to stimulate transcription, when present in conjunction with the distal GRE, this element synergistically enhances glucocorticoid induction of gene expression. Cooperativity of the two GREs is maintained when they are transposed upstream of a heterologous promoter. An oligonucleotide of 22 bp representing the distal GRE is sufficient to confer glucocorticoid inducibility. As evidenced by the mapping of DNAase I hypersensitive sites, local alterations in the structure of chromatin at the GREs take place as a consequence of hormonal treatment.