The products of the p53 and CBP/p300 genes have been individually implicated in control of cell growth and regulation of transcription. p53 is known to act as a positive and negative regulator of gene expression. Here we show that p53, in both wild-type and mutant conformation, forms a specific protein complex with p300. However, in its wild-type but not mutant conformation, p53 inhibits a promoter containing the DNA-binding sequences for the transcription factor AP1, in a p300-dependent manner. p300 stimulates the transcriptional activity of p53 on p53-regulated promoters, and it enhances the responsiveness to a physiological upstream modulator of p53 function, ionizing radiation. A dominant negative form of p300 prevents transcriptional activation by p53, and it counteracts p53-mediated G1 arrest and apoptosis. The data implicate p300 as an important component of p53-signaling, thus providing new insight into the mechanisms of cellular proliferation.