Some transactivator-promoter complexes are highly dynamic due to active disruption of the complex by proteolytic or nonproteolytic mechanisms, and this appears to be an important mechanism by which their activity is governed tightly and eventually terminated. However, the generality of these mechanisms is unclear. In this report, we address the dynamics of hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) binding to the vascular endothelial growth factor promoter. HIF-1 is a heterodimeric transcription factor whose activity is triggered by an increase in HIF-1alpha levels in hypoxic cells. A "competition ChIP" assay is employed to demonstrate that HIF-1alpha forms a kinetically stable complex with the native vascular endothelial growth factor promoter that has a half-life in excess of 1 h. Thus, HIF-1 activity does not require rapid proteolytic turnover of the promoter-bound transactivator, nor is the activator-promoter complex constantly disassembled by chaperones. However, we do find that after cessation of the inducing signal, HIF-1 activity is slowly returned to basal levels by proteasome-mediated proteolysis of the promoter-bound HIF-1alpha protein.