Growth hormone factor 1 (GHF-1) is a pituitary-specific transcription factor that plays a critical role in cell type-specific expression of the growth hormone (GH) gene. Here, we describe the isolation of bovine and rat GHF-1 cDNA clones. These cDNAs encode proteins whose molecular mass, 33K, is identical to purified GHF-1 and whose sequence agrees with a partial GHF-1 peptide sequence. The predicted GHF-1 sequence contains a region, near its C-terminus, that exhibits considerable similarity to a homeobox consensus sequence. DNAase I footprinting with bacterially expressed fusion protein containing a fragment of GHF-1 encompassing the homeobox indicates that this region of the protein functions as its DNA binding domain. Expression of GHF-1 is restricted to cells of the somatotropic lineage in the pituitary. This remarkable specificity of GHF-1 expression correlates with the selective transcription of its target, the GH gene. Other mammalian homeobox-containing proteins may function similarly as transcription factors controlling cell type-specific expression in other locations.