The avian vitellogenin gene is expressed only in the liver of egg-laying hens. It can, however, be activated in immature chicks or roosters by oestradiol. Parallel to the onset of transcription, there is a demethylation of specific mCpGs in the promoter region and in the oestrogen response element (ERE). The methylation pattern in the promoter region is hormone and expression specific, whereas in the ERE it is only hormone and not organ specific. The demethylation occurring in the promoter region is correlated with the appearance of DNase I hypersensitivity sites and changes in the specific protein-DNA interactions. In vivo genomic footprinting of the ERE with varying concentrations of dimethylsulphate revealed, upon gene activation, only minor changes in the protein-DNA interaction. We present evidence that there is another protein that binds with high affinity to the ERE, besides the oestrogen receptor.