Members of the 160-kDa nuclear receptor coactivator family (p160 coactivators) bind to the conserved AF-2 activation function found in the hormone binding domains of nuclear receptors (NR) and are potent transcriptional coactivators for NRs. Here we report that the C-terminal region of p160 coactivators glucocorticoid receptor interacting protein 1 (GRIP1), steroid receptor coactivator 1 (SRC-1a), and SRC-1e binds the N-terminal AF-1 activation function of the androgen receptor (AR), and p160 coactivators can thereby enhance transcriptional activation by AR. While they all interact efficiently with AR AF-1, these same coactivators have vastly different binding strengths with and coactivator effects on AR AF-2. p160 activation domain AD1, which binds secondary coactivators CREB binding protein (CBP) and p300, was previously implicated as the principal domain for transmitting the activating signal to the transcription machinery. We identified a new highly conserved motif in the AD1 region which is important for CBP/p300 binding. Deletion of AD1 only partially reduced p160 coactivator function, due to signaling through AD2, another activation domain located at the C-terminal end of p160 coactivators. C-terminal coactivator fragments lacking AD1 but containing AD2 and the AR AF-1 binding site served as efficient coactivators for full-length AR and AR AF-1. The two signal input domains (one that binds NR AF-2 domains and one that binds AF-1 domains of some but not all NRs) and the two signal output domains (AD1 and AD2) of p160 coactivators played different relative roles for two different NRs: AR and thyroid hormone receptor.