Endothelin-1 promotes cardiomyocyte hypertrophy by inducing changes in gene expression. Immediate early genes including activating transcription factor 3 (Atf3), Egr1 and Ptgs2 are rapidly and transiently upregulated by endothelin-1 in cardiomyocytes. Atf3 regulates expression of downstream genes and is implicated in negative feedback regulation of other immediate early genes. To identify Atf3-regulated genes, we knocked down Atf3 expression in cardiomyocytes exposed to endothelin-1 and used microarrays to interrogate the transcriptomic effects. Of upregulated mRNAs, expression of 23 (including Egr1, Ptgs2) was enhanced and expression of 25 was inhibited by Atf3 knockdown. Using quantitative PCR, we determined that knockdown of Atf3 had little effect on upregulation of Egr1 mRNA over 30 min, but abolished the subsequent decline, causing sustained Egr1 mRNA expression and enhanced protein expression. This resulted from direct binding of Atf3 to the Egr1 promoter. Mathematical modelling established that Atf3 can suffice to suppress Egr1 expression. Given the widespread co-regulation of Atf3 with Egr1, we suggest that the Atf3-Egr1 negative feedback loop is of general significance. Loss of Atf3 caused abnormal cardiomyocyte growth, presumably resulting from dysregulation of target genes. Our data therefore identify Atf3 as a nexus in cardiomyocyte hypertrophy required to facilitate the full and proper growth response.