The untranslated first exon and the 5'-flanking region for the rat liver NADPH-cytochrome P450 oxidoreductase gene has been isolated from a Wistar-Furth genomic library. The remainder of the gene is composed of 15 exons which code for the mature protein and a 3'-nontranslated segment (T. D. Porter et al. Biochemistry, 1990, 29, 9814-9818). The 56-bp first exon resides 30.5 kb upstream from exon two, making the total gene length approximately 50 kb. While the region surrounding the start site (TCAGAGAC) was found to be homologous to a eukaryotic cap signal, the 5' flanking region possesses neither a TATA nor a CCAAT box. Instead it contains five GC-rich hexanucleotide consensus sequences for the transcription factor Sp1. These features clearly distinguish it from genes encoding other members of the mixed-function oxidase system, the cytochromes P450. Primer extension analysis and S1 nuclease mapping identified multiple transcriptional start sites. In many respects, the TATA-less oxidoreductase promoter resembles the promoter regions of dihydrofolate reductase and other housekeeping genes. Northern blot analysis demonstrates that this promoter is modulated by phenobarbital and trans-stilbene oxide, known inducers of oxidoreductase.