For self-renewal, embryonic stem cells (ESCs) require the expression of specific transcription factors accompanied by a particular chromosome organization to maintain a balance between pluripotency and the capacity for rapid differentiation. However, how transcriptional regulation is linked to chromosome organization in ESCs is not well understood. Here we show that the cohesin component RAD21 exhibits a functional role in maintaining ESC identity through association with the pluripotency transcriptional network. ChIP-seq analyses of RAD21 reveal an ESC specific cohesin binding pattern that is characterized by CTCF independent co-localization of cohesin with pluripotency related transcription factors Oct4, Nanog, Sox2, Esrrb and Klf4. Upon ESC differentiation, most of these binding sites disappear and instead new CTCF independent RAD21 binding sites emerge, which are enriched for binding sites of transcription factors implicated in early differentiation. Furthermore, knock-down of RAD21 causes expression changes that are similar to expression changes after Nanog depletion, demonstrating the functional relevance of the RAD21--pluripotency transcriptional network association. Finally, we show that Nanog physically interacts with the cohesin or cohesin interacting proteins STAG1 and WAPL further substantiating this association. Based on these findings we propose that a dynamic placement of cohesin by pluripotency transcription factors contributes to a chromosome organization supporting the ESC expression program.