Epigenetic events, including covalent post-translational modifications of histones, have been demonstrated to have critical roles in tumor development and progression. The transcriptional coactivator p300/CBP possesses both histone acetyltransferase (HAT) activity and scaffolding properties that directly influence the transcriptional activation of targeted genes. We have used a potent and specific inhibitor of p300/CBP HAT activity, C646, in order to evaluate the functional contributions of p300/CBP HAT to tumor development and progression. Here we report that C646 inhibits the growth of human melanoma and other tumor cells and promotes cellular senescence. Global assessment of the p300 HAT transcriptome in human melanoma identified functional roles in promoting cell cycle progression, chromatin assembly, and activation of DNA repair pathways through direct transcriptional regulatory mechanisms. In addition, C646 is shown to promote sensitivity to DNA damaging agents, leading to the enhanced apoptosis of melanoma cells after combination treatment with cisplatin. Together, our data suggest that p300 HAT activity mediates critical growth regulatory pathways in tumor cells and may serve as a potential therapeutic target for melanoma and other malignancies by promoting cellular responses to DNA damaging agents that are currently ineffective against specific cancers.