Lymphotropic papovavirus (LPV) exhibits a highly restricted host range, in which only cells of primate B-lymphocyte origin are permissive for infection. Its enhancer element contributes to this tropism, since transcriptional potentiation is confined to cells of the hematopoietic lineage. Nuclear extracts from B and T cells, but not from HeLa cells, contain protein factors that interact specifically with the LPV 63-base-pair enhancer repeat, as demonstrated by DNase I footprinting and gel retardation experiments. Within the repeat three sequence motifs were identified: the core motif, the Pu box, and a novel element named T motif. Functional analysis demonstrated that these motifs as well as some sequences upstream of the repeat contribute to the optimal activity of the enhancer. There are clear differences between the patterns of binding of the B and T lymphocyte nuclear proteins to the enhancer which are also reflected in the transcriptional activity of the enhancer in both cell types. Furthermore, the activity of the LPV enhancer and its interaction with nuclear proteins seem to be regulated during B-cell differentiation.