Overexpression of the adipocyte differentiation and determination factor-1 (ADD-1) or sterol regulatory element binding protein-1 (SREBP-1) induces the expression of numerous genes involved in lipid metabolism, including lipoprotein lipase (LPL). Therefore, we investigated whether LPL gene expression is controlled by changes in cellular cholesterol concentration and determined the molecular pathways involved. Cholesterol depletion of culture medium resulted in a significant induction of LPL mRNA in the 3T3-L1 preadipocyte cell line, whereas addition of cholesterol reduced LPL mRNA expression to basal levels. Similar to the expression of the endogenous LPL gene, the activity of the human LPL gene promoter was enhanced by cholesterol depletion in transient transfection assays, whereas addition of cholesterol caused a reversal of its induction. The effect of cholesterol depletion upon the human LPL gene promoter was mimicked by cotransfection of expression constructs encoding the nuclear form of SREBP-1a, -1c (also called ADD-1) and SREBP-2. Bioinformatic analysis demonstrated the presence of 3 potential sterol regulatory elements (SRE) and 3 ADD-1 binding sequences (ABS), also known as E-box motifs. Using a combination of in vitro protein-DNA binding assays and transient transfection assays of reporter constructs containing mutations in each individual site, a sequence element, termed LPL-SRE2 (SRE2), was shown to be the principal site conferring sterol responsiveness upon the LPL promoter. These data furthermore underscore the importance of SRE sites relative to E-boxes in the regulation of LPL gene expression by sterols and demonstrate that sterols contribute to the control of triglyceride metabolism via binding of SREBP to the LPL regulatory sequences.