Adeno-associated virus type 2 (AAV) is known to inhibit the promoter activities of several oncogenes and viral genes, including the human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV-16) E6 and E7 transforming genes. However, the target elements of AAV on the long control region (LCR) upstream of E6 and E7 oncogenes are elusive. A chloramphenicol acetyltransferase assay was performed to study the effect of AAV on the transcription activity of the HPV-16 LCR in SiHa (HPV-positive) and C-33A (HPV-negative) cells. The results reveal that (i) AAV inhibited HPV-16 LCR activity in a dose-dependent manner, (ii) AAV-mediated inhibition did not require the HPV gene products, and (iii) the AAV replication gene product Rep78 was involved in the inhibition. Deletion mutation analyses of the HPV-16 LCR showed that regulatory elements outside the core promoter region of the LCR may not be direct targets of AAV- mediated inhibition. Further study with the electrophoretic mobility shift assay demonstrated that Rep78 interfered with the binding of TATA-binding protein (TBP) to the TATA box of the p97 core promoter more significantly than it disrupted the preformed TBP-TATA complex. These data thus suggest that Rep78 may inhibit transcription initiation of the HPV-16 LCR by disrupting the interaction between TBP and the TATA box of the p97 core promoter.