Extremely small quantities of the product of the transforming gene v-mos of Moloney murine sarcoma virus are able to efficiently transform cells. Recent data indicate the existence of a threshold level for v-mos transformation of NIH3T3 cells. Using mouse mammary tumor virus long terminal repeat sequences or hybrid promoters consisting of mouse mammary tumor virus and Moloney murine sarcoma virus long terminal repeat elements to express v-mos in C3H10T1/2 cells, we established cell lines representing different stages of morphological transformation in vitro. The threshold level for v-mos transformation was considerably lower than that for NIH3T3 cells, because no treatment with dexamethasone or primary selection other than transformation was necessary during standard transfection procedures. Using the cell lines mentioned we established an association of the level of v-mos expression with the transformation parameters examined, but not with p53 levels. Furthermore, the characterization of the different promoters showed (i) that the distal binding site confers hormone responsiveness to Moloney murine sarcoma virus promoter elements and (ii) that artifactual transcription initiation sites can be detected in mouse mammary tumor virus-Moloney murine sarcoma virus hybrid promoters which are, however, not regulated by the hormone.