Sp1 is a ubiquitous nuclear factor that plays a key role in maintaining basal transcription of 'house-keeping' genes. However, recent evidence points to a more important function for Sp1 in mediating 'cross-talk' between selected signaling cascades to regulate the target genes that respond to these pathways. The role of Sp1 in mediating the actions of the peptide hormone insulin is of specific interest and serves as a model for detailing effects of intracellular signaling on Sp1 activity. This review summarizes studies suggesting that changes in Sp1 phosphorylation provide one potential mechanism for manipulating activity of this protein. A growing body of evidence reveals that the DNA binding and transcription activity of Sp1 may increase or decrease in response to changes in phosphorylation. This enables 'fine-tuning' of Sp1 activity for regulation of gene transcription. Several mechanisms exist by which Sp1 alters gene activity in response to insulin. These include independent Sp1 activity as well as collaboration or competition with others factors. This review points to an ever-increasing role for Sp1 in regulating the transcription of genes in response to extracellular signals such as insulin.