The tumor suppressor protein p53 regulates gene transcription through binding to specific DNA-target sites. We here demonstrate that a subset of these sites is targeted by another DNA-binding factor. Binding specificity, reactivity with specific antibodies, and experiments with purified protein identified the factor as the multifunctional transcription regulator YY1. The YY1 core binding sequence ACAT is present in the center of p53-half-binding sites in the p21 and GADD45 genes regulating growth arrest and DNA repair, respectively, but is absent in those of the Bax gene critical for apoptosis. In transfection experiments YY1 inhibits p53-activated transcription from the p53-binding site that contains the ACAT sequence. YY1 and p53 are colocalized around the nucleoli and in discrete nuclear domains in PC12 cells undergoing apoptosis. YY1 might attenuate p53-dependent transcription from a subset of p53-target genes and this may be relevant for directing cells either to growth arrest or apoptosis upon p53 activation.