We introduced into MEL cells rabbit beta-globin gene deletion mutants and two sets of hybrid genes constructed from the inducible human beta-globin gene and noninducible human gamma-globin gene or the murine H-2Kbm1 class I MHC gene. S1 nuclease analysis of gene transcripts before and after MEL differentiation showed that induction of the rabbit beta-globin gene did not require more than 58 bp of DNA 5' to the transcription initiation site. Hybrid genes were constructed with human beta-globin DNA sequences from either 5' or 3' of the translation initiation site linked to the complementary parts of the gamma or H2Kbm1 genes. Both types of constructs were inducible during MEL differentiation. The relative rates of transcription of the 5' gamma-3' beta and 5'H2-3' beta hybrid genes show that induction of the hybrid gene transcripts results at least in part from transcriptional activation of the genes. We suggest that DNA sequences that regulate beta-globin gene transcription during MEL differentiation are located both 5' and 3' to the translation initiation site.