Osmotin is a small (24 kDa), basic, pathogenesis-related protein, that accumulates during adaptation of tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) cells to osmotic stress. There are more than 10 inducers that activate the osmotin gene in various plant tissues. The osmotin promoter contains several sequences bearing a high degree of similarity to ABRE, as-1 and E-8 cis element sequences. Gel retardation studies indicated the presence of at least two regions in the osmotin promoter that show specific interactions with nuclear factors isolated from cultured cells or leaves. The abundance of these binding factors increased in response to salt, ABA and ethylene. Nuclear factors protected a 35 bp sequence of the promoter from DNase I digestion. Different 5' deletions of the osmotin promoter cloned into a promoter-less GUSNOS plasmid (pBI 201) were used in transient expression studies with a Biolistic gun. The transient expression studies revealed the presence of three distinct regions in the osmotin promoter. The promoter sequence from -108 to -248 bp is absolutely required for reporter gene activity, followed by a long stretch (up to -1052) of enhancer-like sequence and then a sequence upstream of -1052, which appears to contain negative elements. The responses to ABA, ethylene, salt, desiccation and wounding appear to be associated with the -248 bp sequence of the promoter. This region also contains a putative ABRE (CACTGTG) core element. Activation of the osmotin gene by various inducers is discussed in view of antifungal activity of the osmotin protein.