In transient co-transfection assays, there is extensive cross-interaction between glucocorticoid receptor (GR) domains. For example, mutation of the conserved Ile residue at position 484 (rat GR map) to cysteine allows a net separation of transactivation and DNA binding. We also observed that the ligand binding domain plays a key role in cooperative transactivation. Furthermore, some carboxy-located mutations markedly alter the response of GR to agonists and antagonists. Finally, different reading frames of the CAG repeat that normally produces an amino-located poly-Gln repeat profoundly affect GR transactivation without altering DNA or ligand binding. This trans-dominant negative phenotype, seen when the CAG repeat yields a poly-Ala stretch, may turn out to be an excellent tool for functional analysis of GR in transgenic organisms.