The cAMP response element binding protein (CREB) is a bifunctional transcription activator, exerting its effects through a constitutive activation domain (CAD) and a distinct kinase inducible domain (KID), which requires phosphorylation of Ser-133 for activity. Both CAD and phospho-KID have been proposed to recruit polymerase complexes, but this has not been directly tested. Here, we show that the entire CREB activation domain or the CAD enhanced recruitment of a complex containing TFIID, TFIIB, and RNA polymerase II to a linked promoter. The nuclear extracts used mediated protein kinase A (PKA)-inducible transcription, but phosphorylation of CRG (both of the CREB activation domains fused to the Gal4 DNA binding domain) or KID-G4 did not mediate recruitment of a complex, and mutation of the PKA site in CRG abolished transcription induction by PKA but had no effect upon recruitment. The CREB-binding protein (CBP) was not detected in the recruited complex. Our results support a model for transcription activation in which the interaction between the CREB CAD and hTAFII130 of TFIID promotes the recruitment of a polymerase complex to the promoter.