The ets gene family encodes a group of proteins which function as transcription factors under physiological conditions and, if aberrantly expressed, can cause cellular transformation. We have recently identified two regulatory elements in the murine immunoglobulin heavy-chain (IgH) enhancer, pi and microB, which exhibit striking similarity to binding sites for ets-related proteins. To identify ets-related transcriptional regulators expressed in pre-B lymphocytes that may interact with either the pi or the microB site, we have used a PCR approach with degenerate oligonucleotides encoding conserved sequences in all members of the ets family. We have cloned the gene for a new ets-related transcription factor, ERP (ets-related protein), from the murine pre-B cell line BASC 6C2 and from mouse lung tissue. The ERP protein contains a region of high homology with the ETS DNA-binding domain common to all members of the ets transcription factor/oncoprotein family. Three additional smaller regions show homology to the ELK-1 and SAP-1 genes, a subgroup of the ets gene family that interacts with the serum response factor. Full-length ERP expresses only negligible DNA-binding activity by itself. Removal of the carboxy terminus enables ERP to interact with a variety of ets-binding sites including the E74 site, the IgH enhancer pi site, and the lck promoter ets site, suggesting a carboxy-terminal negative regulatory domain. At least three ERP-related transcripts are expressed in a variety of tissues. However, within the B-cell lineage, ERP is highly expressed primarily at early stages of B-lymphocyte development, and expression declines drastically upon B-cell maturation, correlating with the enhancer activity of the IgH pi site. These data suggest that ERP might play a role in B-cell development and in IgH gene regulation.