Homeostasis in the blood system is maintained by the balance between self-renewing stem cells and nonstem cells. To promote self-renewal, transcriptional regulators maintain epigenetic information during multiple rounds of cell division. Mutations in such transcriptional regulators cause aberrant self-renewal, leading to leukemia. MOZ, a histone acetyltransferase, and MLL, a histone methyltransferase, are transcriptional regulators that promote the self-renewal of hematopoietic stem cells. Gene rearrangements of MOZ and MLL generate chimeric genes encoding fusion proteins that function as constitutively active forms. These MOZ and MLL fusion proteins constitutively activate transcription of their target genes and cause aberrant self-renewal in committed hematopoietic progenitors, which normally do not self-renew. Recent progress in the field suggests that MOZ and MLL are part of a transcriptional activation system that activates the transcription of genes with nonmethylated CpG-rich promoters. The nonmethylated state of CpGs is normally maintained during cell divisions from the mother cell to the daughter cells. Thus, the MOZ/MLL-mediated transcriptional activation system replicates the expression profile of mother cells in daughter cells by activating the transcription of genes previously transcribed in the mother cell. This review summarizes the functions of the components of the MOZ/MLL-mediated transcriptional activation system and their roles in the promotion of self-renewal. © 2021 The Authors. The FEBS Journal published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Federation of European Biochemical Societies.