Androgens are critical in the development and maintenance of the male reproductive system and important in the progression of prostate cancer. The effects of androgens are mediated by the androgen receptor (AR), which is a ligand-modulated transcription factor that belongs to the nuclear receptor superfamily. We and others have previously shown that CREB-binding protein (CBP) can function as a coactivator for AR. Similar to some other nuclear receptor coactivators and/or the proteins that they interact with, CBP has histone acetyl transferase (HAT) activity that is thought to contribute to transcriptional activation by nuclear receptors. We have therefore assessed whether an increase in the histone acetylation status in the cell can influence AR transcriptional activity, by using the histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors (HDACIs) trichostatin A (TSA), sodium butyrate (Na-But) and depsipeptide (FR901228). We found that inhibition of HDAC activity significantly increased the ability of endogenous AR in LNCaP cells, or ectopically expressed AR in HeLa cells, to activate transcription from AR-dependent reporter constructs. In addition, HDACIs increased the androgen-dependent activation of the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) gene in LNCaP cells, an increase that was not due to an increase in nuclear AR protein levels. Moreover, the viral oncoprotein E1A that inhibits CBP HAT activity fully repressed the ability of HDACIs to stimulate AR-mediated transcription, indicating that CBP is involved in this process. Deletional mutagenesis of AR indicated that whereas the AF-2 domain in the C-terminus is dispensable, the AF-1 domain in the N-terminus is required for augmentation of AR action by HDACIs, an observation which is in concordance with the reduced ability of CBP to activate AR N-terminal deletion mutants. Furthermore, HDACI treatment rescued the deficiency in the transactivation potential of AF-2 mutants. Taken together, our findings suggest that a change in the level of histone acetylation of target genes is an important determinant of AR action, possibly mediated by CBP.