The ERK MAP (mitogen-activated protein) kinase cascade modulates many cellular processes including transcription, adhesion, growth, survival, and proliferation. One target substrate of ERK involved in regulating transcription is the p90 ribosomal S6 kinase (RSK) isozyme, RSK2. Here we demonstrate that a small death effector domain-containing protein called PEA-15 binds RSK2. RSK2 and PEA-15 (phosphoprotein enriched in astrocytes, 15 kDa) co-precipitated from cells and were colocalized in the cytoplasm. Furthermore, purified PEA-15 bound in vitro translated RSK2, suggesting that these proteins interact directly. PEA-15 does not bind to RSK1 and therefore exhibits some binding specificity. RSK2 binds the COOH terminus of PEA-15 and does not interact with its NH2-terminal death effector domain. We show that this interaction has functional consequences including the inhibition of RSK2-dependent CREB transcription. PEA-15 expression also blocks histone H3 phosphorylation, an RSK2-dependent event that may contribute to effects on gene expression. These results can be attributed to two effects of PEA-15 on RSK2. First, PEA-15 blocks nuclear accumulation of RSK2 after epidermal growth factor stimulation. Second, PEA-15 inhibits RSK2 kinase activity by 50%. A mutant of PEA-15 that binds RSK2 but is localized to the nucleus had no effect on RSK2-dependent transcription. Interestingly, this mutant also did not affect RSK2 kinase activity. This may indicate that cytoplasmic retention of RSK2 is also required for PEA-15 to impair kinase activity. PEA-15 does not alter ERK phosphorylation of RSK2 and is not itself a substrate of RSK2. Hence the effects of PEA-15 on RSK2 represent a novel mechanism for the regulation of RSK2-mediated signaling.