© 2016 The Author(s) One critical event in reprogramming to pluripotency is erasure of the somatic transcriptional program of starting cells. Here, we present the proof of principle of a strategy for reprogramming to pluripotency facilitated by small molecules that interfere with the somatic transcriptional memory. We show that mild chemical targeting of the acetyllysine-binding pockets of the BET bromodomains, the transcriptional bookmarking domains, robustly enhances reprogramming. Furthermore, we show that chemical targeting of the transcriptional bookmarking BET bromodomains downregulates or turns off the expression of somatic genes in both naive and reprogramming fibroblasts. Chemical blocking of the BET bromodomains also results in loss of fibroblast morphology early in reprogramming. We therefore experimentally demonstrate that cell fate conversion can be achieved by chemically targeting the transcriptional bookmarking BET bromodomains responsible for transcriptional memory.