Transcriptional control requires the spatially and temporally coordinated action of many macromolecular complexes. Chromosomal proteins, transcription factors, co-activators and components of the general transcription machinery, including RNA polymerases, often use structurally or stoichiometrically ill-defined regions for interactions that convey regulatory information in processes ranging from chromatin remodeling to mRNA processing. Determining the functional significance of intrinsically disordered protein regions and developing conceptual models of their action will help to illuminate their key role in transcription regulation. Complexes comprising disordered regions often display short recognition elements embedded in flexible and sequentially variable environments that can lead to structural and functional malleability. This provides versatility to recognize multiple targets having different structures, facilitate conformational rearrangements and physically communicate with many partners in response to environmental changes. All these features expand the capacities of ordered complexes and give rise to efficient regulatory mechanisms.