Hyaluronan (HA) is a key component of the vertebrate extracellular matrix that is synthesized at the plasma membrane by the hyaluronan synthases including HAS1, HAS2 and HAS3. The expression and regulation of HAS1-3 are implicated in numerous physiological and pathological processes. The promoters of human HAS1 and HAS2 genes have been identified previously whereas HAS3 promoter remains unclear. In the present study, we have for the first time identified and characterized the human HAS3 gene promoter region. 5' RACE assay revealed two novel transcriptional variants of HAS3 gene with distinct transcription start sites. Progressive deletion analysis of the 5'-flanking region of HAS3 gene demonstrated that HAS3 proximal promoter is mainly restricted to a 450-bp region (i.e. -761 to -305 bp upstream of the major HAS3 transcription start site), whereas its core promoter is located to a minimal 129-bp region (i.e. -433 to -305 bp upstream of the major HAS3 transcription start site). Transcriptional factor binding analysis indicated that HAS3 gene promoter lacks of canonical TATA box, but contains classical GC box as well as other putative binding sites for transcriptional factors such as C/EBP and NFκB. In addition, site-directed mutagenesis assay demonstrated that the proximal Sp1 binding site is essential for the robust proximal promoter activity of HAS3 gene whereas the core MTE (core promoter motif ten elements) motif is required for the basic core promoter activity of HAS3 gene. Our present study should facilitate further studies on the mechanism regulating the expression of this important gene.