The aromatase gene encodes the key enzyme for estrogen formation. Aromatase enzyme inhibitors eliminate total body estrogen production and are highly effective therapeutics for postmenopausal breast cancer. A distal promoter (I.4) regulates low levels of aromatase expression in tumor-free breast adipose tissue. Two proximal promoters (I.3/II) strikingly induce in vivo aromatase expression in breast fibroblasts surrounding malignant cells. Treatment of breast fibroblasts with medium conditioned with malignant breast epithelial cells (MCM) or a surrogate hormonal mixture (dibutyryl (Bt(2)) cAMP plus phorbol diacetate (PDA)) induces promoters I.3/II. The mechanism of promoter-selective expression, however, is not clear. Here we reported that sodium butyrate profoundly decreased MCM- or Bt(2)cAMP + PDA-induced promoter I.3/II-specific aromatase mRNA. MCM, Bt(2)cAMP + PDA, or sodium butyrate regulated aromatase mRNA or activity only via promoters I.3/II but not promoters I.1 or I.4 in breast, ovarian, placental, and hepatic cells. Mechanistically, recruitment of phosphorylated ATF-2 by a CRE (-211/-199, promoter I.3/II) conferred inductions by MCM or Bt(2)cAMP + PDA. Chromatin immunoprecipitation-PCR and immunoprecipitation-immunoblotting assays indicated that MCM or Bt(2)cAMP + PDA stabilized a complex composed of phosphorylated ATF-2, C/EBP beta, and cAMP-response element-binding protein (CREB)-binding protein in the common regulatory region of promoters I.3/II. Overall, histone acetylation patterns of promoters I.3/II did not correlate with sodium butyrate-dependent silencing of promoters I.3/II. Sodium butyrate, however, consistently disrupted the activating complex composed of phosphorylated ATF-2, C/EBP beta, and CREB-binding protein. This was mediated, in part, by decreased ATF-2 phosphorylation. Together, these findings represent a novel mechanism of sodium butyrate action and provide evidence that aromatase activity can be ablated in a signaling pathway- and cell-specific fashion.