Studies of coat color mutants have greatly contributed to the discovery of genes that regulate melanocyte development and function. Here, we generated Yy1 conditional knockout mice in the melanocyte-lineage and observed profound melanocyte deficiency and premature gray hair, similar to the loss of melanocytes in human piebaldism and Waardenburg syndrome. Although YY1 is a ubiquitous transcription factor, YY1 interacts with M-MITF, the Waardenburg Syndrome IIA gene and a master transcriptional regulator of melanocytes. YY1 cooperates with M-MITF in regulating the expression of piebaldism gene KIT and multiple additional pigmentation genes. Moreover, ChIP-seq identified genome-wide YY1 targets in the melanocyte lineage. These studies mechanistically link genes implicated in human conditions of melanocyte deficiency and reveal how a ubiquitous factor (YY1) gains lineage-specific functions by co-regulating gene expression with a lineage-restricted factor (M-MITF)-a general mechanism which may confer tissue-specific gene expression in multiple lineages.