The role of cellular factors involved in the transcriptional regulation of the cancer-associated human papillomavirus type 18 (HPV18) is yet poorly understood. The presence of an Oct-1-binding site within the HPV18 upstream regulatory region led us to investigate the influence of Oct-1 on viral transcription. Cotransfection of Oct-1 expression plasmids together with luciferase reporter constructs containing HPV18 regulatory sequences indicated that Oct-1 can transcriptionally repress the HPV18 upstream regulatory region. In contrast, heterologous control regions were not affected by Oct-1. HPV18 cis elements that can be repressed by Oct-1 mapped to a 135-bp subregion of the viral constitutive enhancer. Analysis of an Oct-1 mutant defective in DNA binding suggested that HPV18 down-modulation does not require direct binding of Oct-1 to DNA. These results make Oct-1 a candidate factor involved in the intracellular surveillance of HPV18 transcription and support the notion of a host cell mechanism that can specifically repress HPV E6-E7 transforming gene expression.