A systematic mutagenesis of the SV40 enhancer indicates that it spans approximately 100 bp and is composed of at least two distinct DNA domains which exhibit very little enhancing activity on their own. Their association results in a 400-fold enhancement of transcription, virtually irrespective of their relative orientation and, to some extent, of the distance between them. Enhancer activity can also be generated by duplication of either domain. We show also that the activity of each domain is due to the presence of several specific sequence motifs. These motifs are found assorted in different combinations in other viral and cellular enhancers.