Promoter elements containing the sequence motif CGTCA are important for a variety of inducible responses at the transcriptional level. Multiple cellular factors specifically bind to these elements and are encoded by a multigene family. Among these factors, polypeptides termed activating transcription factor 43 (ATF-43) and ATF-47 have been purified from HeLa cells and a factor referred to as cyclic AMP response element-binding protein (CREB) has been isolated from PC12 cells and rat brain. We demonstrated that CREB and ATF-47 are identical and that CREB and ATF-43 form protein-protein complexes. We also found that the cis requirements for stable DNA binding by ATF-43 and CREB are different. Using antibodies to ATF-43 we have identified a group of polypeptides (ATF-43) in the size range from 40 to 43 kDa. ATF-43 polypeptides are related by their reactivity with anti-ATF-43, DNA-binding specificity, complex formation with CREB, heat stability, and phosphorylation by protein kinase A. Certain cell types vary in their ATF-43 complement, suggesting that CREB activity is modulated in a cell-type-specific manner through interaction with ATF-43. ATF-43 polypeptides do not appear simply to correspond to the gene products of the ATF multigene family, suggesting that the size of the ATF family at the protein level is even larger than predicted from cDNA-cloning studies.