The cytosolic phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase (PEPCK) gene is expressed in multiple tissues and is regulated in a complex tissue-specific manner. To map the cis-acting DNA elements that direct this tissue-specific expression, we made transgenic mice containing truncated PEPCK-human growth hormone (hGH) fusion genes. The transgenes contained PEPCK promoter fragments with 5' endpoints at -2088, -888, -600, -402, and -207 bp, while the 3' endpoint was at +69 bp. Immunohistochemical analysis showed that the -2088 transgene was expressed in the correct cell types (hepatocytes, proximal tubular epithelium of the kidney, villar epithelium of the small intestine, epithelium of the colon, smooth muscle of the vagina and lungs, ductal epithelium of the sublingual gland, and white and brown adipocytes). Solution hybridization of hGH mRNA expressed from the transgenes indicated that white and brown fat-specific elements are located distally (-2088 to -888 bp) and that liver-, gut-, and kidney-specific elements are located proximally (-600 to +69 bp). However, elements outside of the region tested are necessary for the correct developmental pattern and level of PEPCK expression in kidney. Both the -2088 and -402 transgenes responded in a tissue-specific manner to dietary stimuli, and the -2088 transgene responded to glucocorticoid stimuli. Thus, different tissues utilize distinct cell-specific cis-acting elements to direct and regulate the PEPCK gene.