In this paper we report on the cloning and characterization of the murine interferon (IFN) beta gene. We have isolated and sequenced a 2.8 kb genomic fragment containing the murine IFN beta gene flanked by 1.2 kb 5' and 1 kb 3' untranslated regions (1 kb = 10(3) base-pairs). The mRNA cap site has been defined. An extensive analysis of the flanking sequence is provided and points out striking features such as: the presence of A + T-rich motifs characteristic of transiently expressed mRNAs, and homologies to repetitive R-type element flanks and to hormone-responsive elements. Comparison of the MuIFN beta 5' flanking region with those from other species reveals similarities in the sequences required for the regulated expression of such inducible genes. Computer analysis of the 130 base-pairs preceding the cap site has revealed TGAAAG motifs and shows that the presence of such elements and their permutants have biological significance, according to statistical calculations. Thus, the comparison between the mouse promoter reported here and the promoters from other species highlights the region containing the hexanucleotide blocks, which is strongly conserved.