Organization of the genome is critical for maintaining cell-specific gene expression, ensuring proper cell function. It is well established that the nuclear lamina preferentially associates with repressed chromatin. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying repressive chromatin formation and maintenance at the nuclear lamina remain poorly understood. Here we show that emerin binds directly to HDAC3, the catalytic subunit of the nuclear co-repressor (NCoR) complex, and recruits HDAC3 to the nuclear periphery. Emerin binding stimulated the catalytic activity of HDAC3, and emerin-null cells exhibit increased H4K5 acetylation, which is the preferred target of the NCoR complex. Emerin-null cells exhibit an epigenetic signature similar to that seen in HDAC3-null cells. Emerin-null cells also had significantly less HDAC3 at the nuclear lamina. Collectively, these data support a model whereby emerin facilitates repressive chromatin formation at the nuclear periphery by increasing the catalytic activity of HDAC3.