Tissue-type plasminogen activator (t-PA) is a positive modulator of the plasminogen-plasmin system, which is involved in bone remodeling. In the present study, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D(3) [1,25(OH)(2)D(3)] was found to stimulate t-PA gene expression in ROS17/2.8 osteosarcoma cells. Transient transfection analysis and in vitro DNA binding studies identified two vitamin D-responsive elements (VDRE) in the human t-PA enhancer. The first VDRE (bp -7175 to -7146) comprised an inverted palindrome separated by 9 bp (IP9) overlapping a palindrome separated by 3 bp. The second VDRE (bp -7315 to -7302) is an IP2 element overlapping the previously identified retinoic acid-responsive element. 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) treatment of primary osteoblasts derived from t-PAlacZ transgenic mice containing 9 kb of 5' sequence of the human t-PA gene increased the number of lacZ-positive cells, fitting with the probability model of enhancer function.