L-type pyruvate kinase (L-PK) is a key enzyme of the glycolytic pathway specifically expressed in the liver and, to a lesser degree, in the small intestine and kidney. One important characteristic of L-PK gene expression is its strong activation by glucose and insulin and its complete inhibition by fasting or glucagon treatment. Having previously established that the entire rat L-PK gene plus 3.2 kbp of 5'-flanking region functions in mice in a tissue-specific and hormonally regulated manner, various deletions of these 3.2 kbp of 5'-flanking regions were tested in transgenic animals to map the cis-acting elements involved in transcriptional gene regulation. Our experiments indicate that the proximal region between -183 and +11 confers tissue specificity and contains all the information necessary for dietary and hormonal control of L-PK gene expression in vivo. We found, however, that the transcriptional activity generated by this proximal promoter fragment can be modulated by distal sequences in a tissue-specific manner. (i) Sequences between bp -183 and -392 seem to play a dual role in the liver and small intestine; they induce L-PK expression in the liver but repress it in the small intestine. (ii) Sequences from bp -392 up to -1170 do not seem to have any additional effect on promoter activity. (iii) Between bp -1170 and -2080, we found a putative extinguisher whose transcriptional inhibitory effect is much more marked in the small intestine than in the liver. (iv) Finally, between bp -2080 and -3200, we identified an activating sequence required for full expression of the gene in the liver.