GATA-3 is a zinc finger transcription factor which is expressed in a highly restricted and strongly conserved tissue distribution pattern in vertebrate organisms, specifically, in a subset of hematopoietic cells, in cells within the central and peripheral nervous systems, in the kidney, and in placental trophoblasts. Tissue-specific cellular genes regulated by GATA- 3 have been identified in T lymphocytes and the placenta, while GATA-3- regulated genes in the nervous system and kidney have not yet been defined. We prepared monoclonal antibodies with which we could dissect the biochemical and functional properties of human GATA-3. The results of these experiments show some anticipated phenotypes, for example, the definition of discrete domains required for specific DNA-binding site recognition (amino acids 303 to 348) and trans activation (amino acids 30 to 74). The signaling sequence for nuclear localization of human GATA-3 is a property conferred by sequences within and surrounding the amino finger (amino acids 249 to 311) of the protein, thereby assigning a function to this domain and thus explaining the curious observation that this zinc finger is dispensable for DNA binding by the GATA family of transcription factors.