Members of the Stat transcription factor family are specifically activated by cytokines, and each Stat mediates its biological effects through the trans-activation of a unique profile of target genes. This specificity is achieved even when Stat proteins mediating opposite transcriptional effects bind to the same palindromic Stat sites in target genes. We show here that the non-conserved sequences of Stat transcription activation domains (TADs) contribute to specificity in promoter activation. Chimeric proteins in which the Stat6 TAD was replaced by that from Stat1alpha or Stat5 exhibited normal interleukin-4-inducible DNA binding activity, but at best modest trans-activation of reporters containing Stat6 binding sites, and a failure to activate the endogenous CD23 promoter in primary B cells. The p160 coactivator nuclear coactivator-1 (Src-1) was specifically recruited by and coactivated Stat6 but not the chimeric Stat6 molecules. Strikingly, transcriptional responses exhibited distinct requirements for the nuclear coactivator-1 interaction motif of the Stat6 C terminus. Together, these findings indicate that the Stat6 TAD contributes to promoter specificity by the differential recruitment of and requirement for a p160-class coactivator.