The cAMP responsive element binding protein (CREB) is a nuclear protein that modulates the transcription of genes with cAMP responsive elements in their promoters. Increases in the concentration of either calcium or cAMP can trigger the phosphorylation and activation of CREB. This transcription factor is a component of intracellular signaling events that regulate a wide range of biological functions, from spermatogenesis to circadian rhythms and memory. Here we review the key features of CREB-dependent transcription, as well as the involvement of CREB in memory formation. Evidence from Aplysia, Drosophila, mice, and rats shows that CREB-dependent transcription is required for the cellular events underlying long-term but not short-term memory. While the work in Aplysia and Drosophila only involved CREB function in very simple forms of conditioning, genetic and pharmacological studies in mice and rats demonstrate that CREB is required for a variety of complex forms of memory, including spatial and social learning, thus indicating that CREB may be a universal modulator of processes required for memory formation.