Heme oxygenase-1 is a highly inducible gene, the product of which catalyzes breakdown of the prooxidant heme. The purpose of this study was to investigate the regulation of the human heme oxygenase-1 gene in renal epithelial cells. DNase I hypersensitivity studies identified three distal sites (HS-2, -3, and -4) corresponding to approximately -4.0, -7.2, and -9.2 kb, respectively, of the heme oxygenase-1 promoter in addition to one proximal region, HS-1, which we have shown previously to be an E box. In vivo dimethyl sulfate footprinting of the HS-2 region revealed six individual protected guanines. Two mutations within HS-2 combined with a third mutation of the proximal E box abolished hemin- and cadmium-driven heme oxygenase-1 promoter activation, suggesting that these three sites synergized for maximal heme oxygenase-1 induction. Jun proteins bound to the antioxidant response element in the HS-2 region in vitro and associated with the heme oxygenase-1 promoter in vivo. JunB and JunD contribute opposing effects; JunB activated whereas JunD repressed heme oxygenase-1 expression in human renal epithelial cells, results that were corroborated in junB -/- and junD-/- cells. We propose that heme oxygenase-1 induction is controlled by a dynamic interplay of regulatory proteins, and we provide new insights into the molecular control of the human heme oxygenase-1 gene. © 2007 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.