The cell-specific regulation of DNA replication has important implications for the molecular strategy of cellular gene control. Mouse polyomavirus (Py) DNA replication is examined as a model of cell-specific replication control. Using an FM3A-derived mouse cell line which expresses early viral proteins (FOP cells), we determined the minimal sequence requirements for viral DNA replication. FOP cells were observed to have much simpler enhancer requirements than 3T6 and many other cells and did not need a B enhancer for high levels of DNA replication. Using these cells, we show that the individual or tandem binding sites for several unrelated trans-acting factors which are generally subfunctional as transcriptional enhancers (simian virus 40 A core, TGTGGAATG; EBP20, TGTGGTTTT; PEA1 [an AP-1 analog], GTGACTAA; PEA2, GACCGCAG; and PEA3, AGGAAG) stimulated low levels of Py DNA replication. The ordered dimeric combination of PEA3 and PEA1 factor-binding sites, however, acted synergistically to stimulate viral DNA replication to high wild-type levels. This is in contrast to prior results in which much larger enhancer sequences were necessary for high-level viral DNA replication. PEA3/PEA1-stimulated DNA replication showed a distance and orientation independence relative to the origin, which disagrees with some but not other prior analyses of enhancer-dependent DNA replication. It therefore appears that trans-acting factor-binding sites (enhansons) can generally activate DNA replication and that the AP-1 family of sites may act synergistically with other associated trans-acting factors to strongly affect Py DNA replication in specific cells.