Expression of the bone sialoprotein (BSP) gene, a marker of bone formation, is largely restricted to cells in mineralized tissues. Recent studies have shown that the Cbfa1 (also known as Runx2, AML-3, and PEBP2αA) transcription factor supports commitment and differentiation of progenitor cells to hypertrophic chondrocytes and osteoblasts. This study addresses the functional involvement of Cbfa sites in expression of the Gallus BSP gene. Gel mobility shift analyses with nuclear extracts from ROS 17/2.8 osteoblastic cells revealed that multiple Cbfa consensus sequences are functional Cbfa DNA binding sites. Responsiveness of the 1.2-kb Gallus BSP promoter to Cbfa factors Cbfa1, Cbfa2, and Cbfa3 was assayed in osseous and nonosseous cells. Each of the Cbfa factors mediated repression of the wild-type BSP promoter, in contrast to their well known activation of various hematopoietic and skeletal phenotypic genes. Suppression of BSP by Cbfa factors was not observed in BSP promoters in which Cbfa sites were deleted or mutated. Expression of the endogenous BSP gene in Gallus osteoblasts was similarly downregulated by forced expression of Cbfa factors. Our data indicate that Cbfa repression of the BSP promoter does not involve the transducin-like enhancer (TLE) proteins. Neither coexpression of TLE1 or TLE2 nor the absence of the TLE interaction motif of Cbfa1 (amino acids 501 to 513) influenced repressor activity. However, removal of the C terminus of Cbfa1 (amino acids 362 to 513) relieved suppression of the BSP promoter. Our results, together with the evolutionary conservation of the seven Cbfa sites in the Gallus and human BSP promoters, suggest that suppressor activity by Cbfa is of significant physiologic consequence and may contribute to spatiotemporal expression of BSP during bone development.