Elongator is an evolutionary highly conserved complex. At least two of its cellular functions rely on the intrinsic lysine acetyl-transferase activity of the elongator complex. Its two known substrates--histone H3 and α-tubulin--reflect the different roles of elongator in the cytosol and the nucleus. A picture seems to emerge in which nuclear elongator could regulate the transcriptional elongation of a subset of stress-inducible genes through acetylation of histone H3 in the promoter-distal gene body. In the cytosol, elongator-mediated acetylation of α-tubulin contributes to intracellular trafficking and cell migration. Defects in both functions of elongator have been implicated in neurodegenerative disorders.