In an attempt to elucidate the mechanism governing liver-specific transcription of the arginase gene, we previously detected two protein-binding sites designated footprint areas A and B at positions around--90 and --55 bp, respectively, relative to the transcription start site of the rat arginase gene. Based on the finding that area A was bound by a liver-selective factor(s) related to CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein (C/EBP), we performed cotransfection assay and showed that C/EBP family members and a related factor, albumin D-element-binding protein (DBP) stimulate transcription from the arginase promoter. In addition to area A, a recombinant C/EBP beta protein bound to area B, which appeared to be primarily responsible for activation by C/EBPs. We unexpectedly found that the arginase promoter activity stimulated by C/EBPs and DBP was repressed by another liver-enriched transcription factor, hepatocyte nuclear factor-4 (HNF-4). Analysis of chimeras formed between the arginase promoter and the herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase promoter allowed us to delimit the negative HNF-4-responsive element into the region overlapping with footprint area B. However, no apparent binding of HNF-4 was observed in this negative element. We speculate that HNF-4 is involved in fine regulation of the arginase gene in the liver or shutdown of the gene in nonhepatic tissues without direct binding to the promoter region.