Artificial transcription factors (ATFs) are proteins designed to specifically bind and regulate genes. Because of their DNA-binding selectivity and modular organization, arrays of zinc finger (ZF) domains have traditionally been used to build the ATF's DNA-binding domains. ATFs have been designed and constructed to regulate a variety of therapeutic targets. Recently, novel combinatorial technologies have been developed to induce expression of any gene of interest or to modify cellular phenotypes. Large repertoires of ATFs have been generated by recombination of all available sequence-specific ZF lexicons. These libraries comprise millions of ATFs with unique DNA-binding specificities. The ATFs are produced by combinatorial assembly of three- and six-ZF building blocks and are linked to activator or repressor domains. Upon delivery into a cell population, any gene in the human genome can potentially be regulated. ATF library members generate genome-wide, experimental perturbations of gene expression, resulting in a phenotypically diverse population, or cellular library. A variety of phenotypic screenings can be applied to select for cells exhibiting a phenotype of interest. The ATFs are then used as genetic probes to identify the targeted genes responsible for the phenotypic switch. In this review we will summarize several applications of ATF library screenings in gene discovery, biotechnology, and disease therapeutics.