Regulatory regions of genes encoding milk proteins are frequently used to produce in the mammary gland of transgenic animals a variety of pharmaceutically and medically important human proteins. One such example is the whey acidic protein (WAP) promoter region, identified so far in the genome of mouse, rat, rabbit, camel, pig, brushtail possum and Tammar wallaby. The aim of the present study was cloning and characterization of the 5' upstream promoter region of rat WAP gene. Using Genome Walking procedure, we cloned the region extending from -849 to -3671 bp. We have shown that there are two conserved regions highly similar to hypersensitive sites present in mouse and rabbit upstream region of WAP gene with binding sites for STAT5 transcription factor, essential for expression of WAP gene in mammary glands during lactation. We characterized dispersed and tandem repeats in the upstream region of rat WAP gen localized not far away from the translation initiation site. (C) 2004 Elsevier B.V All rights reserved.