The gene coding for glycoprotein IIb (GPIIb), the alpha subunit of platelet integrin GPIIb/IIIa is an early and specific marker of the megakaryocytic lineage. Thus, studies on the regulation of this gene may provide helpful information on the mechanisms controlling cell specificity and differentiation in this lineage. The promoter region of this gene was isolated and analyzed to understand its tissue-specific transcriptional activity. A region extending from nucleotides -414 to -554 was found to be extremely important for the promoter function. Deletion of this region results in a 70% decrease of the promoter activity, as measured in CAT assays. This region has the properties of an enhancer. It is able to activate a heterologous promoter, in a distance- and orientation-independent manner, in both megakaryocytic and erythroid cells. This enhancer contains binding sites for nuclear factors and mutation of these sites, individually or together, abolish the enhancer activity. These nuclear factors are present in megakaryocytic and erythroid cell lineages, but they are absent in the other tested cells. One of the sites, named domain D, contains a TTATC motif that may interact with the transcription factor GATA1, active in erythroid and megakaryocytic cells. These results indicate that the promoter of a megakaryocytic gene contains a tissue specific enhancer, active in both the erythroid and the megakaryocytic lineages, and may implicate the erythroid factor GATA1.