A major goal in understanding eukaryotic gene regulation is to identify the target(s) of transcriptional activators. Efforts to date have pointed to various candidates. Here we show that a 34-amino-acid peptide from the carboxy terminus of GAL4 is a strong activation domain (AD) and retains at least four proteins from a crude extract: the negative regulator GAL80, the TATA-binding protein (TBP), and the putative coactivators SUG1 and ADA2. TFIIB was not retained. Concentrating on TBP, we demonstrate in in vitro binding assays that its interaction with the AD is specific, direct, and salt stable up to at least 1.6 M NaCl. The effects of mutations in the GAL4 AD on transcriptional activation in vivo correlate with their affinities to TBP. A point mutation (L114K) in yeast TBP, which has been shown to compromise the mutant protein in both binding to the VP16 AD domain and activated transcription in vitro, reduces the affinity to the GAL4 AD to the same degree as to the VP16 AD. This suggests that these two prototypic activators make similar contacts with TBP.