The p53 tumour suppressor is a transcriptional factor whose activity is modulated by protein stability and post-translational modifications including acetylation. The mechanism by which acetylated p53 is maintained in vivo remains unclear. Here we show that the deacetylation of p53 is mediated by an histone deacetylase-1 (HDAC1)-containing complex. We have also purified a p53 target protein in the deacetylase complexes (designated PID; but identical to metastasis-associated protein 2 (MTA2)), which has been identified as a component of the NuRD complex. PID specifically interacts with p53 both in vitro and in vivo, and its expression reduces significantly the steady-state levels of acetylated p53. PID expression strongly represses p53-dependent transcriptional activation, and, notably, it modulates p53-mediated cell growth arrest and apoptosis. These results show that deacetylation and functional interactions by the PID/MTA2-associated NuRD complex may represent an important pathway to regulate p53 function.