The human H19 is paternally imprinted (maternally expressed). It is transcribed by RNA pol II, but has no protein product. Its function is unknown. We showed that the transcription of the human H19 gene is under the simultaneous control of both a 5' upstream (promoter) region and a 3' downstream region in cell lines derived from human choriocarcinomas. Moreover, the activation of the H19 promoter by retinoic acid in cells derived from human testicular germ cell tumors is dependent upon the 3' downstream region. The possibility that the action of retinoic acid on the H19 promoter is an indirect one and involves a member of the AP2 transcription factor family is discussed.