Fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) is a membrane-bound enzyme that inactivates a family of fatty acid amide molecules which are implicated in physiological processes such as pain and sleep. We cloned a 1.9 kb fragment of the 5'-untranslated region of the mouse FAAH gene into the pGL3 basic luciferase reporter vector and showed that this sequence has promoter activity in vitro. By primer extension analysis, we have determined the transcription start site to be 200 bases upstream of the ATG initiation codon and found that a TATA motif was absent. A number of putative response elements, including those for estrogen and glucocorticoids, were identified in this sequence. We have demonstrated that the estrogen and glucocorticoid receptors down-regulate transcriptional activity independent of their ligand. These data should help in understanding the mechanisms of FAAH gene transcription.