Recent studies have shown that the p300/CREB binding protein (CBP)-associated factor (PCAF) is involved in transcriptional activation. PCAF activity has been shown strongly associated with histone acetyltransferase (HAT) activity. In this report, we present evidence for a HAT-independent transcription function that is activated in the presence of the human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) Tax protein. In vitro and in vivo GST-Tax pull-down and coimmunoprecipitation experiments demonstrate that there is a direct interaction between Tax and PCAF, independent of p300/CBP. PCAF can be recruited to the HTLV-1 Tax responsive element in the presence of Tax, and PCAF cooperates with Tax in vivo to activate transcription from the HTLV-1 LTR over 10-fold. Point mutations at Tax amino acid 318 (TaxS318A) or 319 to 320 (Tax M47), which have decreased or no activity on the HTLV-1 promoter, are defective for PCAF binding. Strikingly, the ability of PCAF to stimulate Tax transactivation is not solely dependent on the PCAF HAT domain. Two independent PCAF HAT mutants, which knock out acetyltransferase enzyme activity, activate Tax transactivation to approximately the same level as wild-type PCAF. In contrast, p300 stimulation of Tax transactivation is HAT dependent. These studies provide experimental evidence that PCAF contains a coactivator transcription function independent of the HAT activity on the viral long terminal repeat.