Three major types of opioid receptors, μ (MOR), δ (DOR), and κ (KOR), have been cloned and characterized. Each opioid receptor exhibits a distinct pharmacological profile as well as a distinct pattern of temporal and spatial expression in the brain, suggesting the critical role of transcription regulatory elements and their associated factors. Here, we report the identification of a minimum core promoter, in the 5'-flanking region of the mouse DOR gene, containing an E box and a GC box that are crucial for DOR promoter activity in NS20Y cells, a DOR-expressing mouse neuronal cell line. In vitro protein-DNA binding assays and in vivo transient transfection assays indicated that members of both the upstream stimulatory factor and Sp families of transcription factors bound to and trans-activated the DOR promoter via the E box and GC box, respectively. Furthermore, functional and physical interactions between these factors were critical for the basal as well as maximum promoter activity of the DOR gene. Thus, the distinct developmental emergence and brain regional distribution of the δ opioid receptor appear to be controlled, at least in part, by these two regulatory elements and their associated factors.