The proto-oncogene Fli-1, a member of Ets family is rearranged or activated through proviral integration in erythroleukemias, induced by Friends' Murine Leukemia Virus. The DNA binding domain (ETS domain) of Fli-1 is fused to the RNA binding domain of EWS by t(11q24:22q12) chromosomal translocation in Ewing's sarcoma and primitive neuroectodermal tumors. Screening of human cDNA libraries has identified two different 5'-termini and alternatively spliced forms of the human Fli-1 gene (Fli-1b), suggesting the possible existence of two independent promoters. The genomic sequence adjacent to the alternate exon of human Fli-1b gene shows functional promoter activity when cloned in promoter-less CAT expression vector and transfected into QT-6 cells. The transcription initiation (CAP) site and minimum promoter region necessary for function were localized. The 5'-flanking regions of human Fli-1b and mouse Fli-1 show 80% homology suggesting conserved promoter regulatory elements. The Fli-1b 5'-flanking sequence lacks canonical TATA or CCAAT boxes but contains a partially conserved TATA-like sequence at position 242. Several transcription factor binding sequences like ATF/CREB, E2A-PBX1, EBP, PEA-3, ETS-2, Sp-1, c-Myc, TBP, GATA-1 and Oct-3 were conserved in the promoter sequence. Functional promoter assays revealed that Fli-1b promoter shows very strong transcriptional activation compared to Fli-1 promoter. We also showed that variant Fli-1b has transcriptional activation properties similar to those of Fli-1. Fli-1b and Fli-1 show differential expression in various hematopoietic cell lines. This differential expression and promoter activities of Fli-1 and Fli-1b suggests that several mechanisms are involved in Fli-1 gene regulation which are mediated by many transcription factors.