Cells have evolved complex and efficient strategies for dealing with variable and often-harsh environments. A key aspect of these stress responses is the transcriptional activation of genes encoding defense and repair proteins. In yeast members of the AP-1 family of proteins are required for the transcriptional response to oxidative stress. This sub-family of AP-1 (called yAP-1) proteins are sensors of the redox-state of the cell and are activated directly by oxidative stress conditions. yAP-1 proteins are bZIP-containing factors that share homology to the mammalian AP-1 factor complex and bind to very similar DNA sequence sites. The generation of reactive oxygen species and the resulting potential for oxidative stress is common to all aerobically growing organisms. Furthermore, many of the features of this response appear to be evolutionarily conserved and consequently the study of model organisms, such as yeast, will have widespread utility. The important structural features of these factors, signaling pathways controlling their activity and the nature of the target genes they control will be discussed.