We have initiated a characterization of the cis-acting regulatory elements of the murine low-affinity NGF receptor (p75NGFR) gene. Despite studies in cultured cells that suggest the p75NGFR promoter is constitutive, a detailed analysis of this promoter in five lines of transgenic mice demonstrated a high degree of cell-type specificity: 8.4 kb of 5′ flanking sequence directs expression of a lacZ reporter to retinal and CNS neurons normally expressing p75NGFR. A transgene with 470 bp of 5′ flanking sequence is also expressed in the CNS, but its regulation is aberrant, with a loss of basal forebrain expression. In non-neural tissues, both transgenes were expressed only in the testis, kidney, anterior pituitary, and pancreatic islets; with the exception of the renal pattern of expression, transgene activity was confined to appropriate cells within these tissues. In contrast, although expression of both transgenes was prominent in adrenal medulla and gastrointestinal myenteric neurons, neither construct was active in several sensory or sympathetic ganglia that strongly express the endogenous p75NGFR gene, indicating that genetic elements necessary for expression in these neurons are not present in these promoter sequences. In addition, neither transgene was activated in Schwann cells during Wallerian degeneration of sciatic nerve. We conclude that regulation of the p75NGFR gene is complex, with the first 470 bp of 5′ flanking sequence sufficient for expression in enteric and CNS neurons and additional elements within the first 8.4 kb of 5′ flanking sequence required for restriction to appropriate CNS neurons. Further regulatory elements are possibly required for expression in at least some sensory and sympathetic neurons in the PNS and in Schwann cells. To identify potential regulatory elements in the 470 bp of 5′ flanking sequence from the smaller transgene, we compared the sequences of equivalent regions from the mouse, rat, and human p75NGFR genes. This “phylogenetic footprint” identified conserved motifs potentially important for the regulation of this gene in the CNS.