ISGF2 was initially identified, purified and cloned as an interferon-alpha (IFN alpha) induced transcription factor that binds to the IFN-stimulated response element (ISRE) of IFN alpha/beta-stimulated genes (ISGs). It was reported to be transcriptionally regulated by several cytokines including IFN alpha and IFN gamma. IFN alpha and IFN gamma inducibility is mediated by a single element: a high affinity, nearly palindromic version of the IFN gamma activation site (GAS). The ISGF2 GAS is bound specifically by p91, which was previously identified as a subunit of the ISG activator ISGF3, and shown to mediate IFN gamma induction of the GBP gene via a GAS. Tyrosine phosphorylation and DNA binding activity of p91 parallel transcription of ISGF2 in response to IFN alpha and/or IFN gamma, consistent with induction mediated by only a GAS. Transcription of the genes that encode p91 and p113, another subunit of ISGF3, is activated only by IFN alpha. This result suggests induction mediated by an ISRE, and implies autoregulation, requiring the products of both genes. Specificity of the ISRE is the basis for the previous conclusion. In contrast, it appears likely that the ISGF2 GAS, and p91 or related factors, also mediate induction of ISGF2 by IL-6 and prolactin. Convergence of signalling pathways from at least four cytokines on this single site would thus be a key aspect of a general role for ISGF2 in cellular growth control.