C/EBP is a rat liver nuclear protein capable of sequence-specific interaction with DNA. The DNA sequences to which C/EBP binds in vitro have been implicated in the control of messenger RNA synthesis. It has therefore been predicted that C/EBP will play a role in regulating gene expression in mammalian cells. The region of the C/EBP polypeptide required for direct interaction with DNA has been identified and shown to bear amino acid sequence relatedness with the product of the myc, fos, and jun proto-oncogenes. The arrangement of these related amino acid sequences led to the prediction of a new structural motif, termed the "leucine zipper," that plays a role in facilitating sequence-specific interaction between protein and DNA. Experimental tests now provide support for the leucine zipper hypothesis.