Brain creatine kinase is a major enzyme of cellular energy metabolism. It is overexpressed in a wide range of tumor cell lines and is used as a tumor marker. We reported recently that the promoter of the human gene has a strong sequence similarity to the adenovirus E2E promoter. This similarity suggested that the brain creatine kinase gene may be regulated by the viral activator E1a. Experiments reported here showed that both enzyme activity and mRNA levels were induced by the oncogenic products of the E1a region of adenovirus type 5, but unlike the viral E2E promoter, which is induced predominantly by E1a domain 3, brain creatine kinase induction required domains 1 and 2. These domains are important for transformation and for the association of E1a with the retinoblastoma gene product and other cellular proteins. The induction by an oncogene of a cellular gene for energy metabolism may be of significance for the metabolic events that take place after oncogenic activation.