20α-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (20α-HSD), which metabolizes progesterone to an inactive steroid in the corpus luteum of mice and rats but not of humans, is thought to play a crucial role in shortening the oestrous cycles in these rodent species. We determined the nucleotide sequence of the 5′-flanking region of the mouse 20α-HSD gene, and examined its promoter activity using a rat luteinized granulosa cell culture. A reporter assay, using reporter constructs of various lengths of the 5′-flanking region, revealed that the region between −83 and 60 bp upstream of the transcription start site was essential for transcriptional activity. Furthermore, mutational analysis demonstrated that a putative Sp1 site in this region was critical to the expression of the reporter gene. Electrophoretic mobility-shift assays showed that the interaction of proteins in a nuclear extract from rat luteinized granulosa cells with this region was inhibited by a competitor having the wild-type Sp1 sequence in its promoter, but not a mutated Sp1 sequence. Supershift analysis confirmed that Sp1 and Sp3 were present in the nuclear extract of these cells, and that these factors bound to the element. Finally, promoter activity was elevated by the co-transfection of an Sp1 expression vector, and, to a lesser extent, by an Sp3 expression vector, supporting further the involvement of these factors in the expression of the 20α-HSD gene.