In order to investigate the molecular basis of the regulation of interferon-inducible genes, we isolated the promoter region of two such genes coding for the (2'-5')oligo(adenylate) synthetase and a 56-kDa protein (IFI-56K). The regions surrounding the cap site were sequenced and compared with the sequences of vertebrate and viral DNA present in the Genbank data bank. Small DNA segments were found in both genes which are homologous to part of the promoter region of other genes, such as those of interferon-beta, tumor necrosis factor beta, interleukin-2 and its receptor. Since these homologies were found located in functionally important regions of these genes, we tested whether their inducers also enhance the (2'-5')oligo(adenylate) synthetase and IFI-56K gene expression. We found that poly(rI).poly(rC) and interleukin-1, activators of the interferon-beta gene and of T lymphocytes respectively, are both able to enhance IFI-56K mRNA accumulation in all cell lines tested. Cycloheximide even superinduces this gene when added together with poly(rI).poly(rC) and interleukin-1 (but not when added with interferon). We showed that these inductions are direct and not mediated by interferon produced by cells in response to poly(rI).poly(rC) or interleukin-1. The promoter sequence analyses have thus led to the discovery of unexpected inducers, i.e. an interferon inducer such as poly(rI).poly(rC) is also able to directly induce a gene that is under the control of interferon.