Transcription from the liver promoter of a 6-phosphofructo-2-kinase/fructose-2,6-bisphosphatase (PFK-2) gene depends on the presence of glucocorticoids that act via a glucocorticoid response unit (GRU) located in the first intron. The promoter and the GRU are in a constitutively open chromatin configuration. To determine how glucocorticoids would affect factor binding to the GRU in absence of chromatin remodeling, we have used a combination of in vitro DNA-binding assays and in vivo genomic footprinting in rat hepatocytes and hepatoma cells. We found that, in the absence of glucocorticoids, the GRU binds nuclear factor-I (NF-I). Glucocorticoid treatment modified factor binding to the NF-I site and induced the binding of hepatocyte nuclear factor-3 (HNF-3). Transfection assays showed that HNF-3 cooperates with the glucocorticoid receptor in stimulating transcription. In contrast with the lack of effect of glucocorticoids on factor binding to constitutively open GRUs of other genes, HNF-3 binding to the open PFK-2 GRU was hormone-dependent. Therefore, the PFK-2 GRU behaves as a novel type of GRU.