The ubiquitin proteasome system classically selects its substrates for degradation by tagging them with ubiquitin. Here, we describe another means of controlling proteasome function in a global manner. The 26S proteasome can be inhibited by modification with the enzyme, O-GlcNAc transferase (OGT). This reversible modification of the proteasome inhibits the proteolysis of the transcription factor Sp1 and a hydrophobic peptide through inhibition of the ATPase activity of 26S proteasomes. The Rpt2 ATPase in the mammalian proteasome 19S cap is modified by O-GlcNAc in vitro and in vivo and as its modification increases, proteasome function decreases. This mechanism may couple proteasomes to the general metabolic state of the cell. The O-GlcNAc modification of proteasomes may allow the organism to respond to its metabolic needs by controlling the availability of amino acids and regulatory proteins.