Many genes are recruited to the nuclear periphery upon transcriptional activation. The mechanism and functional significance of this recruitment is unclear. We find that recruitment of the yeast INO1 and GAL1 genes to the nuclear periphery is rapid and independent of transcription. Surprisingly, these genes remain at the periphery for generations after they are repressed. Localization at the nuclear periphery serves as a form of memory of recent transcriptional activation, promoting reactivation. Previously expressed GAL1 at the nuclear periphery is activated much more rapidly than long-term repressed GAL1 in the nucleoplasm, even after six generations of repression. Localization of INO1 at the nuclear periphery is necessary and sufficient to promote more rapid activation. This form of transcriptional memory is chromatin based; the histone variant H2A.Z is incorporated into nucleosomes within the recently repressed INO1 promoter and is specifically required for rapid reactivation of both INO1 and GAL1. Furthermore, H2A.Z is required to retain INO1 at the nuclear periphery after repression. Therefore, H2A.Z-mediated localization of recently repressed genes at the nuclear periphery represents an epigenetic state that confers memory of transcriptional activation and promotes reactivation.