Heparanase (HPSE) is an endoglycosidase that cleaves heparan sulfate (HS) and plays an important role in tumor metastasis, angiogenesis and inflammation. The regulation of HPSE expression and function is tightly controlled and the increasing use of the mouse as an animal model to define the role of HPSE in many physiological and pathological settings, makes understanding the regulatory mechanisms of HPSE in this species of fundamental importance. However, the expression distribution of the mouse Hpse gene and the mechanisms that regulate its transcription are poorly defined. In this study, the mouse Hpse gene was determined to encode for two mRNA transcripts of 1.9 and 3.2 kb in length with identical open reading frames that showed similar tissue expression distribution to the human HPSE. The mouse Hpse promoter was cloned and a 478-bp minimal promoter was identified that contained regulatory elements responsible for both basal promoter activity in mouse tumor cells as well as inducible activity in T cells. Mutagenesis and transactivation studies identified a functional site in the minimal promoter region for the transcription factor Early growth response gene 1 (Egr1). Interestingly, Egr1 acted differentially in mouse tumor cells, functioning in an activating or repressive manner in breast carcinoma or melanoma cells, respectively. Furthermore, the proximal region of the promoter, identified as important in the regulation of Hpse transcription, was shown to become accessible in T cells upon cell activation. Significantly, the maximal accessibility of the promoter occurred at 16 h post-stimulation, which correlated with the induction kinetics of Hpse mRNA expression. In summary, this study demonstrates that mouse Hpse is expressed and regulated in a similar manner to human HPSE and also provides some novel insights into mechanisms of Hpse gene regulation that are likely to be relevant to control of the human gene.