We identify two high-affinity matrix-attachment regions (MAR elements) located in two introns of the human DNA topoisomerase I gene (TOP1). These intronic MAR elements, designated MI and MII, are specifically bound by the nuclear matrix and partition with scaffolds in vitro. One of these MAR elements, MII, is part of a genomic region which is hypersensitive for endogenous nucleases. We have sequenced both DNA elements and have characterized their mode of binding to the nuclear matrix. Experiments with the minor-groove-binding ligands distamycin and chromomycin indicate that the A+T-rich regions, most likely homopolymeric A tracts, are responsible for binding of these DNA elements to the nuclear matrix. MII contains an alu-like element and a segment of curved DNA. Analysis of subfragments of MII show that the curved DNA region itself shows only weak nuclear-matrix binding, and that the high-affinity binding sites are located on subfragments on the 5' side of the curved DNA. In addition, we found that the alu-like sequence does not contribute significantly to the binding of MII and of subfragments of MII to nuclear-matrix proteins. Comparing the distribution of repetitive sequences in the cloned parts of human DNA topoisomerase I gene with the location of high-affinity matrix-binding sites we find no evidence that repetitive DNA may be located close to MAR elements as has been previously suggested.