Hormones and nutrients often induce genetic programs via signaling pathways that interface with gene-specific activators. Activation of the cAMP pathway, for example, stimulates cellular gene expression by means of the PKA-mediated phosphorylation of cAMP-response element binding protein (CREB) at Ser-133. Here, we use genome-wide approaches to characterize target genes that are regulated by CREB in different cellular contexts. CREB was found to occupy approximately 4,000 promoter sites in vivo, depending on the presence and methylation state of consensus cAMP response elements near the promoter. The profiles for CREB occupancy were very similar in different human tissues, and exposure to a cAMP agonist stimulated CREB phosphorylation over a majority of these sites. Only a small proportion of CREB target genes was induced by cAMP in any cell type, however, due in part to the preferential recruitment of the coactivator CREB-binding protein to those promoters. These results indicate that CREB phosphorylation alone is not a reliable predictor of target gene activation and that additional CREB regulatory partners are required for recruitment of the transcriptional apparatus to the promoter.