In eukaryotic cells, transcription of every protein-coding gene begins with the assembly of an RNA polymerase II preinitiation complex (PIC) on the promoter. The promoters, in conjunction with enhancers, silencers and insulators, define the combinatorial codes that specify gene expression patterns. Our ability to analyse the control logic encoded in the human genome is currently limited by a lack of accurate information regarding the promoters for most genes. Here we describe a genome-wide map of active promoters in human fibroblast cells, determined by experimentally locating the sites of PIC binding throughout the human genome. This map defines 10,567 active promoters corresponding to 6,763 known genes and at least 1,196 un-annotated transcriptional units. Features of the map suggest extensive use of multiple promoters by the human genes and widespread clustering of active promoters in the genome. In addition, examination of the genome-wide expression profile reveals four general classes of promoters that define the transcriptome of the cell. These results provide a global view of the functional relationships among transcriptional machinery, chromatin structure and gene expression in human cells.