ERV9 is a low repeated family of human endogenous retroviral elements whose expression is mainly detectable in undifferentiated embryonal carcinoma NT2/D1 cells. In this report we have analyzed the minimal promoter region located within the ERV9 LTR. Using the transient CAT expression assay we have identified the minimal promoter region, which includes sequences spanning from -70 to +6 relative to the major transcription start site. Deletion analysis, primer extension mapping of the transcription start sites and DNA-protein interactions assays have allowed us to define two important regions within the ERV9 minimal promoter. One region located between -70 to -39 acts as a transcriptional activating sequence and contains an Sp 1 binding site. The second region from -7 to +6, which resembles an initiator element (Inr), was necessary for the correct transcription start site utilization, and binds to a regulatory protein. Cross-competition experiments using various Inr elements have indicated that the protein that binds to the ERV9 Inr element can be competed by the HIV-1 and TdT Inr sequences.