An elastase-human growth hormone (hGH) fusion gene containing 205 base pairs of elastase 5' flanking region is expressed exclusively in pancreatic acinar cells of transgenic mice. This paper shows that the promoter region (-72 to +8) and the enhancer (-205 to -73) function independently of each other. The elastase enhancer can activate the heterologous mouse metallothionein gene and the hGH gene promoters; conversely, enhancers from the thymocyte-specific murine leukemia virus MCF13 and the metal regulatory elements from the metallothionein gene can activate the elastase promoter in a variety of cell types. Combinations of immunoglobulin and elastase enhancers with a heterologous promoter and the hGH gene result in expression in all of the tissues predicted by the sum of each enhancer acting alone. Thus these enhancer elements act independently of each other, suggesting that they do not have silencing activity in cells in which they are normally inactive.