Both retinoic acid receptors (RARs) and retinoid X receptors (RXRs) mediate the action of retinoids that play important roles in reproductive development and function, as well as steroidogenesis. Regulation of steroid biosynthesis is principally mediated by the steroidogenic acute regulatory protein (StAR); however, the modes of action of retinoids in the regulation of steroidogenesis remain obscure. In this study we demonstrate that all-trans retinoic acid (atRA) enhances StAR expression, but not its phosphorylation (P-StAR), and progesterone production in MA-10 mouse Leydig cells. Activation of the protein kinase A (PKA) cascade, by dibutyrl-cAMP or type I/II PKA analogs, markedly increased retinoid-responsive StAR, P-StAR, and steroid levels. Targeted silencing of endogenous RARα and RXRα, with small interfering RNAs, resulted in decreases in 9-cis RA-stimulated StAR and progesterone levels. Truncation of and mutational alterations in the 5'-flanking region of the StAR gene demonstrated the importance of the -254/-1-bp region in retinoid responsiveness. An oligonucleotide probe encompassing an RXR/liver X receptor recognition motif, located within the-254/-1-bp region, specifically bound MA-10 nuclear proteinsand in vitro transcribed/translatedRXRα andRARα in EMSAs. Transcription of the StARgenein response to atRA and dibutyrl-cAMP was influenced by several factors, its up-regulation being dependent on phosphorylation of cAMP response-element binding protein (CREB). Chromatin immunoprecipitation studies revealed the association of phosphorylation of CREB, CREB binding protein, RXRα, and RARα to the StAR promoter. Further studies elucidated that hormone-sensitive lipase plays an important role in atRA-mediated regulation of the steroidogenic response that involves liver X receptor signaling. These findings delineate the molecular events by which retinoids influence cAMP/PKA signaling and provide additional and novel insight into the regulation of StAR expression and steroidogenesis in mouse Leydig cells.