In the liver, glucocorticoids induce a 10-15-fold increase in the rate of transcription of the phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase (PEPCK) gene, which encodes a key gluconeogenic enzyme. This induction requires a multicomponent glucocorticoid response unit (GRU) comprised of four glucocorticoid accessory factor (AF) elements and two glucocorticoid receptor binding sites. We show that the AFs that bind the gAF1, gAF2, and gAF3 elements (hepatocyte nuclear factor [HNF]4/chicken ovalbumin upstream promoter transcription factor 1 and HNF3beta) all interact with steroid receptor coactivator 1 (SRC1). This suggests that the AFs function in part by recruiting coactivators to the GRU. The binding of a GAL4-SRC1 chimeric protein completely restores the glucocorticoid induction that is lost when any one of these elements is replaced with a GAL4 binding site. Thus, when SRC1 is recruited directly to gAF1, gAF2, or gAF3, the requirement for the corresponding AF is bypassed. Surprisingly, glucocorticoid receptor is still required when SRC1 is recruited directly to the GAL4 site, suggesting a role for the receptor in activating SRC1 in the context of the GRU. Structural variants of GAL4-SRC1 were used to identify requirements for the basic-helix-loop-helix and histone acetyltransferase domains of SRC1, and these are specific to the region of the promoter to which the coactivator is recruited.