The selective expression of a unique copy gene in several mammalian tissues has been approached by studying the regulatory sequences needed to control expression of the rat phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase (PEPCK) gene in transgenic mice. A transgene containing the entire PEPCK gene, including 2.2 kb of the 5'-flanking region and 0.5 kb of the 3'-flanking region, exhibits tissue-specific expression in the liver, kidney, and adipose tissue, as well as the hormonal and developmental regulation inherent to endogenous gene expression. Deletions of the 5'-flanking region of the gene have shown the need for sequences downstream of position -540 of the PEPCK gene for expression in the liver and sequences downstream of position -362 for expression in the kidney. Additional sequences upstream of position -540 (up to -2200) are required for expression in adipose tissue. In addition, the region containing the glucocorticoid-responsive elements of the gene used by the kidney was identified. This same sequence was found to be needed specifically for developmental regulation of gene expression in the kidney and, together with upstream sequences, in the intestine. The apparently distinct sequence requirements in the various tissues indicate that the tissues use different mechanisms for expression of the same gene.