Mammalian cells have a remarkable diverse repertoire of response to genotoxic stress that damage DNA. Cellular responses to DNA damaging agents will initially exhibit gene induction, which is regulated by complex mechanism(s) and probably involves multiple signaling pathways. In this paper, we demonstrate that induction of ATF3 protein, a member of the ATF/CREB family of transcription factors, by ionizing radiation (IR) requires normal cellular p53 function. In contrast, induction of ATF3 after UV radiation (UV) or Methyl methanesulphonate (MMS) is independent of p53 status. Induction of ATF3 by DNA damage is rapid, transient, and through a transcriptional mechanism. The ATF3 promoter is induced by UV and MMS, but not by IR. In addition, ATF3 promoter can be activated by MEKK1, an upstream activator of the ERK and JNK kinase pathway, but not induced following p53 expression. Those results indicate that regulation of ATF3 induction after DNA damage utilizes both the p53-dependent and -independent pathways, and may also involve MAP kinase signaling pathways. Using the tetracycline-inducible system (tet-off), we have found that over-expression of ATF3 protein moderately suppresses cell growth. Interestingly, over-expression of ATF3 protein is able to slow down progression of cells from G1 to S phase, indicating that ATF3 protein might play a negative role in the control of cell cycle progression.