Ets proteins form a family of sequence specific DNA binding proteins which bind DNA through a 85 aminoacids conserved domain, the Ets domain, whose sequence is unrelated to any other characterized DNA binding domain. Unlike all other known Ets proteins, which bind specific DNA sequences centered over either GGAA or GGAT core motifs, E74 and Elf1 selectively bind to GGAA corecontaining sites. Elf1 and E74 differ from other Ets proteins in three residues located in an otherwise highly conserved region of the Ets domain, referred to as conserved region III (CRIII). We show that a restricted selectivity for GGAA core-containing sites could be conferred to Ets1 upon changing a single lysine residue within CRIII to the threonine found in Elf1 and E74 at this position. Conversely, the reciprocal mutation in Elf1 confers to this protein the ability to bind to GGAT core containing EBS. This, together with the fact that mutation of two invariant arginine residues in CRIII abolishes DNA binding, indicates that CRIII plays a key role in Ets domain recognition of the GGAA/T core motif and lead us to discuss a model of Ets proteins--core motif interaction.