Poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase 1 (PARP-1) and p53 are two key proteins in the DNA-damage response. Although PARP-1 is known to poly(ADP-ribosyl)ate p53, the role of this modification remains elusive. Here, we identify the major poly(ADP-ribosyl)ated sites of p53 by PARP-1 and find that PARP-1-mediated poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation blocks the interaction between p53 and the nuclear export receptor Crm1, resulting in nuclear accumulation of p53. These findings molecularly link PARP-1 and p53 in the DNA-damage response, providing the mechanism for how p53 accumulates in the nucleus in response to DNA damage. PARP-1 becomes super-activated by binding to damaged DNA, which in turn poly(ADP-ribosyl)ates p53. The nuclear export machinery is unable to target poly(ADP-ribosyl)ated p53, promoting accumulation of p53 in the nucleus where p53 exerts its transactivational function.