Activating transcription factor 2 (ATF-2/CRE-BP1; cAMP-responsive element binding protein 1) is a member of nuclear transcription factor activator protein-1 (AP-1) family. AP-1 regulates cellular processes including growth, proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis. However, biological relationship of cellular process to each member of the AP-1 family is not clear yet. The objective of the present study was to compare the ATF-2 immunoreactivity in the post-mitotic and terminally differentiated odontoblasts and in the pulpal fibroblasts which can be divided by mitosis when required. Fibroblasts at various stages of differentiation co-exist in the human dental pulp. ATF-2 was investigated immunohistochemically in 20 permanent human teeth. According to the findings obtained, the mean percentage of ATF-2 positive cells was 68.5 +/- A 19.2 % in the odontoblasts and 22.8 +/- A 13.7 % in the pulpal fibroblasts. The comparison of ATF-2 positivity revealed a statistically significant difference between odontoblasts and pulpal fibroblasts. These findings have suggested that ATF-2 is more associated with cell survival rather than cell proliferation, and revealed much of effectiveness in maintaining terminal differentiation than the various differentiation stages of the cells.