Alkaptonuria (AKU; McKusick No. 203500), a rare hereditary disorder of the phenylalanine catabolism, was the first disease to be interpreted as an inborn error of metabolism (A. E. Garrod, 1902, Lancet 2: 1616-1620). AKU patients are deficient for homogentisate 1,2-dioxygenase (HGO; EC 18.104.22.168). This enzymatic deficiency causes homogentisic aciduria, ochronosis, and arthritis. Recently we cloned the human HGO gene and showed that AKU patients carry two copies of a loss-of-function HGO allele. Here we describe the complete nucleotide sequence of the human HGO gene and the identification of its promoter region. The human HGO gene spans 54,363 bp and codes for a 1715-nt-long transcript that is split into 14 exons ranging from 35 to 360 bp. The HGO introns, 605 to 17,687 bp in length, contain representatives of the major classes of repetitive elements, including several simple sequence repeats (SSR). Two of these SSRs, a (CT)n repeat in intron 4 and a (CA)n repeat in intron 13, were found to be polymorphic in a Spanish population sample. The HGO transcription start site was determined by primer extension. We report that sequences from -1074 to +89 bp (relative to the HGO transcription start site) are sufficient to promote transcription of a CAT reporter gene in human liver cells and that this fragment contains putative binding sites for liver-enriched transcription factors that might be involved in the regulation of HGO expression in liver.