The human mineralocorticoid (hMR) and glucocorticoid (hGR) receptors mediate biological responses to adrenal corticosteroids and synthetic ligands. In transient transfection studies, corticosteroid-responsive promoters were used to monitor the hormone-dependent transcriptional regulatory properties of both receptors. The hMR mediates a lower stimulation of the transcription rate than the hGR and does not show cooperative activity on promoters containing multiple palindromic glucocorticoid-responsive elements. The functional importance of the amino-terminus in this differential response was demonstrated by hMR/hGR hybrid receptors in which this region was exchanged or deleted. These experiments revealed that the hMR amino-terminus does not provide the strong transactivation function present in the equivalent hGR domain and, in contrast to the hGR amino-terminus, interferes with the synergistic activity mediated by the DNA- and ligand-binding domains of both receptors.