The histone H4 acetylation status of the active X (Xa) and inactive X (Xi) chromosomes was investigated at the level of individual genes. A moderate level of acetylation was observed along the lengths of genes on both the Xi and Xa, regardless of their X inactivation status. However, this moderate level of acetylation was modified specifically in promoter regions. Transcriptionally active genes showed elevated levels of acetylation at their promoters on both the Xi and Xa. In contrast, promoters of X-inactivated genes were markedly hypoacetylated, which coincided with the methylation of adjacent CG dinucleotides. This promoter-specific hypoacetylation may be a key component of an X inactivation machinery that operates at the level of individual genes.