Dissection and reconstitution of the adenovirus DNA replication machinery has led to the discovery of two HeLa nuclear proteins which are required in conjunction with three viral proteins. One of these, nuclear factor I (NF-I), recognizes an internal region of the origin between nucleotides 25 and 40 and by binding to one side of the helix stimulates the initiation reaction up to 30-fold. NFI-binding sites have been observed upstream of several cellular genes, such as chicken lysozyme, human IgM and human c-myc, and coincide in most cases with DNase I hypersensitive regions. Here we report the identification of a novel DNA-binding protein from HeLa nuclei, designated NF-III, that recognizes a sequence in the adenovirus origin very close to the NFI-binding site, between nucleotides 36 and 54. This sequence includes the partially conserved nucleotides TATGATAATGAG. NF-III stimulates DNA replication four- to sixfold by increasing the initiation efficiency. Potential cellular binding sites include promoter elements of the histone H2B gene, the human interferon beta gene, the human and mouse immunoglobulin VK and VH genes and the mammal/chicken/Xenopus laevis U1 and U2 small nuclear RNA genes. Furthermore, a subset of the herpes simplex virus immediate early promoter specific TAATGARAT elements is homologous with the adenovirus 2 (Ad-2) NFIII-binding site.