The PHD finger, a Cys4-His-Cys3 zinc finger, is found in many regulatory proteins from plants or animals which are frequently associated with chromatin-mediated transcriptional regulation. We show here that the PHD finger activates transcription in yeast, plant and animal cells. In plant homeodomain transcription factors the PHD finger is combined with an upstream leucine zipper. Both domains together form a highly conserved 180 amino acid region called the ZIP/PHDf motif and transcriptional activity of the PHD finger is masked when embedded in this motif. Our results indicate that the ZIP/PHDf domain is a potential regulatory domain of PHDf-HD proteins. We identified 5 HB-PDH genes, including JTY(2), LWM(1) and F106(2).