The transcription factor CREB mediates diverse responses in the nervous system. It is not known how CREB induces specific patterns of gene expression in response to different extracellular stimuli. We find that Ca(2+) influx into neurons induces CREB phosphorylation at Ser133 and two additional sites, Ser142 and Ser143. While CREB Ser133 phosphorylation is induced by many stimuli, phosphorylation at Ser142 and Ser143 is selectively activated by Ca(2+) influx. The triple phosphorylation of CREB is required for effective Ca(2+) stimulation of CREB-dependent transcription, but the phosphorylation of Ser142 and Ser143, in addition to Ser133, disrupts the interaction of CREB with its cofactor CBP. These results suggest that Ca(2+) influx triggers a specific program of gene expression in neurons by selectively regulating CREB phosphorylation.