Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) is one of the most potent trigger substances for monocytes and macrophages causing secretion of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) and other inflammatory mediators. The nature of the nuclear factors involved in human TNF-alpha gene regulation is still unknown. Nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kappa B) proteins have been suggested to play an important role in gene transcription of inflammatory mediators when monocytes are stimulated with LPS. However, it remains unclear whether these nuclear factors are the only ones involved in human TNF-alpha gene regulation. In this report, to further the identification of nuclear factor(s) involved in TNF-alpha gene regulation, human monocytic THP-1 cells were transfected with a series of truncated versions of human TNF-alpha promoter. A 98-bp region located from nucleotides -584 to -487 demonstrated strong promoter activity. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays demonstrated that a 64-bp fragment located within the 98-bp region and lacking any potential NF-kappa B-binding sites avidly bound LPS-challenged THP-1 nuclear protein. Although this binding was inhibited in salicylate-treated cells, as was binding of NF-kappa B, the pattern of binding was found to differ from that noted for NF-kappa B. Analysis of this 64-bp fragment disclosed the absence of an NF-kappa B consensus sequence, suggesting a novel nuclear DNA-binding protein necessary for the initiation of human TNF-alpha transcription other than, or in addition to, NF-kappa B.