Summary Sox2 is an important transcriptional regulator in embryonic and adult stem cells [1–4]. Recently, Sox2 was identified as an oncogene in many endodermal cancers, including colon cancer [5–8]. There is great interest in how Sox2 cooperates with other transcription factors to regulate stem cell renewal, differentiation, and reprogramming . However, we still lack a general understanding of Sox2 transcriptional action. To determine transcriptional partners of Sox2 in adult cells, we generated mice where gene expression could be induced by an externally applied stimulus. We analyzed the consequences in the intestine where cell turnover is rapid. Sox2 expression, but not Oct4, specifically increased the numbers of stem cells and repressed Cdx2, a master regulator of endodermal identity. In vivo studies demonstrated that Sox21, another member of the SoxB gene family, was a specific, immediate, and cell-autonomous target of Sox2 in intestinal stem cells. In vitro experiments showed that Sox21 was sufficient to repress Cdx2 in colon cancer cells and in pluripotent stem cells. Sox21 was also specifically induced by Sox2 in fibroblasts and inhibition of Sox21 blocked reprogramming to the pluripotent state. These results show that transcriptional induction of Sox21 is a rapid and general mediator of the effects of Sox2 on cell identity in a wide range of cell types.