The seco-steroid 1 alpha,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (VD) is known to inhibit cellular proliferation and to induce differentiation as well as programmed cell death (apoptosis). VD is the ligand of the transcription factor VDR, which is a member of the nuclear receptor superfamily. Primary VD responding genes contain a VD response element (VDRE), on which VDR binds as a dimeric complex. The main heterodimeric partner of VDR is the retinoid X receptor (RXR) and the majority of the known natural VDREs are formed by a direct repeat of hexameric core binding motifs spaced by 3 nucleotides. Most of the genes carrying DR3-type VDREs are associated with the hormone's classical function, which is the regulation of calcium homeostasis. Recently, it has been found that inverted palindromic arrangements spaced by 9 nucleotides also form functional VDREs. This paper reports the identification of a novel IP9-type VDRE in the mouse c-fos promoter. This elements is bound with high affinity by VDR-RXR heterodimers and responds at 10-fold lower concentrations to the potent anti-proliferative VD analogue EB1089 than to VD. This suggests that VD may be directly involved in the transcriptional regulation of the cell cycle via the activation of the c-fos gene.