Hepatitis B virus (HBV) enhancer I has been shown to consist of several cis-acting sequences for the HBV gene expression efficiently in certain types of cells. Transcriptional regulation of HBV X gene mediated by enhancer I might be one of the mechanisms by which HBV obtains hepatotropism. By mutagenesis analysis of enhancer I function in the enhancer I/X gene promoter complex, we characterized a specific transcriptional regulatory region (designated as a LSR element, nt 989-1030) of enhancer I for the X gene promoter by means of the transient transfection technique using hepatic and nonhepatic cells. Based on the analysis of protein factors interacting with the LSR element, liver-enriched transcriptional factors, HNF3 and HNF4 or retinoid X receptor alpha (RXR alpha), are probably implicated in the activity of enhancer I for the efficient expression of X gene through their interaction with the LSR element in the hepatic cell. Furthermore, the isolated LSR element was demonstrated to function alone as a specific cis-acting element and to be able to activate transcription from the X gene promoter efficiently in the hepatic cell in an orientation-independent manner.