A regulatory region of the human transferrin receptor gene promoter was found to be required for increased expression in response to serum or growth factors. This region contains two elements that appear to cooperate for full responsiveness. We found that sodium orthovanadate treatment of cells significantly activated expression of promoter constructs containing these elements. 12-O-Tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate alone induced a twofold increase in expression but acted synergistically with vanadate to generate a highly elevated level of expression. Dibutyryl cyclic AMP alone had no effect on expression, but when added together with vanadate and 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate, led to superinduction of the promoter construct. Induction of expression by these reagents was delayed several hours, and the kinetics were identical to those observed for serum induction.