Elk-1, a member of the TCF family of Ets domain proteins, contains a C-terminal transcriptional activation domain with multiple copies of the MAPK core consensus sequence S/T-P. This region is phosphorylated by MAP kinases in vitro and in vivo, but the extent and kinetics of phosphorylation at the different sites have not been investigated in detail. We prepared antisera against the phosphorylated forms of residues T353, T363, T368, S383, S389 and T417. The antisera specifically recognize the phosphorylated Elk-1 C terminus and are specific for their cognate sites, as assessed by peptide competition and mutagenesis experiments. Analysis of cells stably expressing Elk-1 in vivo shows that following serum or TPA stimulation, residues T353, T363, T368, S383, S389 and T417 become phosphorylated with similar kinetics. Mutation of any one site does not prevent phosphorylation of the others. Mutation to alanine of S383, F378 or W379, which virtually abolishes transcriptional activation by Elk-1, does not affect phosphorylation of any sites tested. Analysis of Elk-1 using two-dimensional gel electrophoresis shows that following ERK activation Elk-1 receives at least six phosphates in addition to those present prior to stimulation. We propose that the Elk-1 C-terminal regulatory domain becomes stoichiometrically phosphorylated following growth factor stimulation.