The activation domain of the yeast Gal4 protein binds specifically to the Gal80 repressor and is also thought to associate with one or more coactivators in the RNA polymerase II holoenzyme and chromatin remodeling machines. This is a specific example of a common situation in biochemistry where a single protein domain can interact with multiple partners. Are these different interactions related chemically? To probe this point, phage display was employed to isolate peptides from a library based solely on their ability to bind Gal80 protein in vitro. Peptide-Gal80 protein association is shown to be highly specific and of moderate affinity. The Gal80 protein-binding peptides compete with the native activation domain for the repressor, suggesting that they bind to the same site. It was then asked if these peptides could function as activation domains in yeast when tethered to a DNA binding domain. Indeed, this is the case. Furthermore, one of the Gal80-binding peptides binds directly to a domain of the Gal11 protein, a known coactivator. The fact that Gal80-binding peptides are functional activation domains argues that repressor binding and activation/coactivator binding are intimately related properties. This peptide library-based approach should be generally useful for probing the chemical relationship of different binding interactions or functions of a given native domain.