Hypertrophic growth is a risk factor for mortality in heart diseases. Mechanisms are lacking for this global increase in RNA and protein per cell, which underlies hypertrophy. Hypertrophic signals cause phosphorylation of the RNA polymerase II C-terminal domain, required for transcript elongation. RNA polymerase II kinases include cyclin-dependent kinases-7 (Cdk7) and Cdk9, components of two basal transcription factors. We report activation of Cdk7 and -9 in hypertrophy triggered by signaling proteins (Galphaq, calcineurin) or chronic mechanical stress. Only Cdk9 was activated by acute load or, in culture, by endothelin. A preferential role for Cdk9 was shown in RNA polymerase II phosphorylation and growth induced by endothelin, using pharmacological and dominant-negative inhibitors. All four hypertrophic signals dissociated 7SK small nuclear RNA, an endogenous inhibitor, from cyclin T-Cdk9. Cdk9 was limiting for cardiac growth, shown by suppressing its inhibitor (7SK) in culture and preventing downregulation of its activator (cyclin T1) in mouse myocardium.Note: In the AOP version of this article, the numbering of the author affiliations was incorrect. This has now been fixed, and the affiliations appear correctly online and in print.