The p53 protein is a transcription factor that integrates various cellular stress signals. The accumulation of the mutant huntingtin protein with an expanded polyglutamine tract plays a central role in the pathology of human Huntington's disease. We found that the huntingtin gene contains multiple putative p53-responsive elements and p53 binds to these elements both in vivo and in vitro. p53 activation in cultured human cells, either by a temperature-sensitive mutant p53 protein or by gamma-irradiation (gamma-irradiation), increases huntingtin mRNA and protein expression. Similarly, murine huntingtin also contains multiple putative p53-responsive elements and its expression is induced by p53 activation in cultured cells. Moreover, gamma-irradiation, which activates p53, increases huntingtin gene expression in the striatum and cortex of mouse brain, the major pathological sites for Huntington's disease, in p53+/+ but not the isogenic p53-/- mice. These results demonstrate that p53 protein can regulate huntingtin expression at transcriptional level, and suggest that a p53 stress response could be a modulator of the process of Huntington's disease.