The transcription factor E2F-1 is implicated in the activation of S-phase genes as well as induction of apoptosis, and is regulated by interactions with Rb and by cell cycle-dependent alterations in E2F-1 abundance. We earlier demonstrated a pivotal role for poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-1 (PARP-1) in the regulation of E2F-1 expression and promoter activity during S-phase re-entry when quiescent cells re-enter the cell cycle. We now investigate the putative mechanism(s) by which PARP-1 may upregulate E2F-1 promoter activity during S-phase re-entry. DNase-1 footprint assays with purified PARP-1 showed that PARP-1 did not directly bind the E2F-1 promoter in a sequence-specific manner. In contrast to p53, a positive acceptor in poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation reactions, E2F-1 was not poly(ADP-ribosyl)ated by wild-type PARP-1 in vitro, indicating that PARP-1 does not exert a dual effect on E2F-1 transcriptional activation. Protein-binding reactions and coimmunoprecipitation experiments with purified PARP-1 and E2F-1, however, revealed that PARP-1 binds to E2F-1 in vitro. More significantly, physical association of PARP-1 and E2F-1 in vivo also occurred in wild-type fibroblasts 5 h after re-entry into S phase, coincident with the increase in E2F-1 promoter activity and expression of E2F-1-responsive S-phase genes cyclin A and c-Myc. Mapping of the interaction domains revealed that full-length PARP-1 as well as PARP-1 mutants lacking either the catalytic active site or the DNA-binding domain equally bind E2F-1, whereas a PARP-1 mutant lacking the automodification domain does not, suggesting that the protein interaction site is located in this central domain. Finally, gel shift analysis with end-blocked E2F-1 promoter sequence probes verified that the binding of PARP-1 to E2F-1 enhances binding to the E2F-1 promoter, indicating that PARP-1 acts as a positive cofactor of E2F-1-mediated transcription.