We report that two novel alternatively spliced products of the murine Oct-2 gene encode Mini-Oct (Oct-2d), a protein consisting of almost only the POU domain, and Oct-2c, a protein lacking the last 12 amino acids of Oct-2a. Ectopic expression in HeLa cells shows that Oct-2c is a transactivator, whereas Mini-Oct fails to transactivate if the octamer motif is in a promoter position next to TATA box. Mini-Oct can repress the transcriptional signal generated by endogenous octamer factors in F9 cells. It seems that Mini-Oct has the potential to serve as a transcriptional modulator for genes regulated by different octamer-binding factors. In situ hybridization reveals that Mini-Oct expression follows the general pattern of other known Oct-2 transcripts. However, it is absent from the Purkinje cell layer in the cerebellum of adult mice, and strong expression is observed in the developing nasal neuroepithelium and primary spermatids. Differential expression patterns of the Oct-2 transcripts with different transactivation/repression capacities of the encoded proteins may have a specific role in gene expression in the developing nervous system and in adult brain.