HO-1 (heme oxygenase-1) is an inducible microsomal enzyme that catalyzes the degradation of pro-oxidant heme. The goal of this study was to characterize a minimal enhancer region within the human HO-1 gene and delineate its role in modulating HO-1 expression by participation with its promoter elements in renal epithelial cells. Deletion analysis and site-directed mutagenesis identified a 220-bp minimal enhancer in intron 1 of the HO-1 gene, which regulates hemin-mediated HO-1 gene expression. Small interfering RNA, decoy oligonucleotides, site-directed mutagenesis, and chromatin immunoprecipitation assays confirmed the functional interaction of Sp1 with a consensus binding sequence within the 220-bp region. Mutations of regulatory elements within the -4.5 kb promoter region (a cyclic AMP response and a downstream NF-E2/AP-1 element, both located at -4.0 kb, and/or an E-box sequence located at -44 bp) resulted in the loss of enhancer activity. A chromosome conformation capture assay performed in human renal epithelial (HK-2) cells demonstrated hemin-inducible chromatin looping between the intronic enhancer and the -4.0 kb promoter region in a time-dependent manner. Restriction digestion with ApaLI (which cleaves the 220-bp enhancer) led to a loss of stimulus-dependent chromatin looping. Sp1 small interfering RNA and mithramycin A, a Sp1 binding site inhibitor, resulted in loss of the loop formation between the intronic enhancer and the distal HO-1 promoter by the chromosome conformation capture assay. These results provide novel insight into the complex molecular interactions that underlie human HO-1 regulation in renal epithelial cells. © 2010 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.