Technologies that facilitate the targeted manipulation of epigenetic marks could be used to precisely control cell phenotype or interrogate the relationship between the epigenome and transcriptional control. Here we have generated a programmable acetyltransferase based on the CRISPR/Cas9 gene regulation system, consisting of the nuclease-null dCas9 protein fused to the catalytic core of the human acetyltransferase p300. This fusion protein catalyzes acetylation of histone H3 lysine 27 at its target sites, corresponding with robust transcriptional activation of target genes from promoters, proximal enhancers, and distal enhancers. Gene activation by the targeted acetyltransferase is highly specific across the genome. In contrast to conventional dCas9-based activators, the acetyltransferase effectively activates genes from enhancer regions and with individual guide RNAs. The core p300 domain is also portable to other programmable DNA-binding proteins. These results support targeted acetylation as a causal mechanism of transactivation and provide a new robust tool for manipulating gene regulation.