Histone deacetylases (HDACs) modify nucleosomal histones, have a key role in the regulation of gene transcription, and may be involved in cell-cycle regulation, differentiation and human cancer. Purified recombinant human HDAC1 protein was used to screen a cDNA expression library, and one of the clones identified encoded DNA topoisomerase II (Topo II), an enzyme known to have a role in transcriptional regulation and chromatin organization. Coimmunoprecipitation experiments indicate that HDAC1 and HDAC2 are associated with Topo II in vivo under normal physiological conditions. Complexes containing Topo II possess HDAC activities, and complexes containing HDAC1 or HDAC2 possess Topo II activities. HDAC and Topo II modify each other's activity in vitro and in vivo. Our results indicate the existence of a functionally coupled complex between these two enzymes and offer insights into the potential mechanisms of action of both enzymes.