Interleukin-3 (IL-3) is exclusively expressed by activated T and natural killer cells, a function that is tightly controlled both in a lineage-specific and in a stimulation-dependent manner. We have investigated the protein binding characteristics and functional importance of the ACT-1-activating region of the IL-3 promoter. This region binds an inducible, T-cell-specific factor over its 5′ end, a site that is necessary for the expression of IL-3 in the absence of other upstream elements. Over its 3′ end, it binds a factor that is ubiquitously and constitutively expressed. This factor is Oct-1 or an immunologically related octamer-binding protein, and it plays a role in coordinating the activity of several regulatory elements. These characteristics make the ACT-1 site analogous to the activating ARRE-1 site in the IL-2 promoter. Furthermore, and despite a lack of sequence homology, the promoters of IL-3 and IL-2 share an organizational pattern of regulatory elements that is likely to be important for the T- cell-specific expression of these genes.