Histone lysine acetylation is central to epigenetic control of gene transcription. The bromodomain, found in chromatin-associated proteins and histone acetyltranferases, functions as the sole protein module known to bind acetyl-lysine motifs. Recent structural and functional analyses of bromodomains' recognition of lysine-acetylated peptides derived from major acetylation sites in histones and cellular proteins provide new insights into differences in ligand binding selectivity as well as unifying features of histone recognition by the bromodomains. These new findings highlight the functional importance of bromodomain/acetyl-lysine binding as a pivotal mechanism for regulating protein-protein interactions in histone-directed chromatin remodeling and gene transcription. These new studies also support the notion that functional diversity of a conserved bromodomain structural fold is achieved by evolutionary changes of structurally flexible amino-acid sequences in the ligand binding site such as the ZA and BC loops.