The protein encoded by the human testis determining gene, SRY, contains a high mobility group (HMG) box related to that present in the T cell-specific, DNA-binding protein TCF-1. Recombinant SRY protein was able to bind to the same core sequence AACAAAG recognized by TCF-1 in a sequence dependent manner. In five XY females point mutations were found in the region encoding the HMG box. In four cases DNA binding activity of mutant SRY protein was negligible; in the fifth case DNA binding was reduced. These results imply that the DNA binding activity of SRY is required for sex determination.