Initiation of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) productive infection is dependent on the major immediate early (MIE) genes ie1 and ie2. Several putative binding sites for CCAAT displacement protein (CDP or CUX1) were identified within the MIE promoter/regulatory region. Binding assays demonstrated binding of CUX1 to MIE-region oligonucleotides containing the CUX1 core binding sequence ATCGAT and mutagenesis of this sequence abrogated CUX1 binding. Furthermore, CUX1 repressed expression of a luciferase reporter construct controlled by the MIE promoter, and mutation of CUX1 binding sites within the promoter diminished this repressive function of CUX1. In the context of virus infection of HEK293 cells transfected with the CUX1 expression vector, CUX1 showed evidence of association with the HCMV MIE regulatory region and inhibited the capacity of the virus to express ie1 and ie2 transcripts, suggesting that this cellular factor regulates MIE gene expression following virus entry. These data identify a role for CUX1 in repressing HCMV gene expression essential for initiation of the replicative cycle. © 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.