We demonstrate that in contrast to previous findings by using simple synthetic promoters or activators, the natural IFN-β enhanceosome activates transcription by causing a dramatic increase of the rate by which preinitiation complexes assemble at the promoter. This effect totally depends on the recruitment of the CBP-PolII holoenzyme by the enhanceosome, because its depletion from the extract decelerates the rate of transcription. However, addition of the CBP-PolII holoenzyme back to these extracts fully restores the speed by which the enhanceosome activates transcription. Strikingly, preincubation of the enhanceosome with the CBP-RNA PolII holoenzyme complex results in instant assembly of preinitiation complexes. In contrast, individual IFN-β gene activators function solely by increasing the number of functional preinitiation complexes and not the rate of their assembly. Thus, fast recruitment of the CBP-RNA PolII holoenzyme complex is critical for the rapid activation of IFN-β gene expression by virus infection.