Glucocorticoids are effective repressors of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II gene expression. The repression occurs in B cells, which constitutively express MHC class II, as well as in macrophages, which only express MHC class II after the cells are treated with interferon gamma. For the MHC class II gene IA beta, this negative regulation has been linked to the X box DNA sequence, located with the IA beta promoter. The addition of the glucocorticoid receptor was shown to inhibit the DNA binding of the X box DNA binding protein to the X box. The DNA binding of two other DNA binding proteins that recognize elements within this promoter was unaffected by the addition of glucocorticoid receptor. It is likely that the repression of IA beta gene expression by glucocorticoids occurs because the X box DNA binding protein is prevented from binding to the DNA and activating transcription.