Tyrosine aminotransferase (TAT) gene transcription is specifically activated by glucocorticoid hormones in liver cells. This regulation involves a glucocorticoid responsive region located 2,500 bases upstream from the transcription start site of the rate gene. By transient transfection of TAT-CAT fusion genes into a rat hepatoma cell line expressing the TAT gene we found that this region promotes only 30% of the glucocorticoid stimulation. We have identified a new cis-acting region far upstream (-5,400) from the transcription start site that is essential to achieve the physiological level of glucocorticoid stimulation of endogenous TAT gene expression. This region corresponds to a tissue-specific DNAse I hypersensitive site which is constitutive despite the fact it possesses a glucocorticoid receptor binding site. It is by itself almost inactive on a promoter but it cooperatively enhances the action of the proximal glucocorticoid responsive region. Its activity requires both the glucocorticoid receptor binding site and its flanking sequences.