The expression of the beta-amyloid precursor protein (APP), which plays a key role in the development of Alzheimer's disease, is regulated by a variety of cellular mediators in a cell-dependent manner. In the present study, we present evidence that thyroid hormones negatively regulate the expression of the APP gene in neuroblastoma cells. Transient transfection studies using plasmids that contain progressive deletions of the 5' region of the gene demonstrate that triiodothyronine (T3), the more active form of the thyroid hormones, represses APP promoter activity by a mechanism that requires binding of the nuclear T3 receptor (TR) to a specific sequence located in the first exon. The unliganded receptor increases promoter activity, and T3 reverses that activity to basal levels. The repressive effect of T3 does not exhibit TR isoform specificity, and it is equally mediated by TRalpha and TRbeta. Gel mobility shift assays using in vitro synthesized nuclear receptors and nuclear extracts led to the identification of a negative thyroid hormone response element, at nucleotide position +80/+96, that preferentially binds heterodimers of TR with the retinoid X receptor. Insertion of sequences containing this element confers negative regulation by T3 to a heterologous TK promoter, thus indicating the functionality of the element.