The activity of transcription factors modulates several neural pathways that mediate complex behaviors. We describe here the role of the POU transcription factor UNC-86 in the olfactory behavior of Caenorhabditis elegans. unc-86-null mutants are defective in response to odor attractants but avoid odor repellents normally. Continuous UNC-86 activity is necessary for maintenance of odortaxis behavior; hyperactivation of UNC-86 by fusion to a VP16 activation domain dramatically enhances sensitivity to odor attractants and promotes odor-attractant adaptation. UNC-86 is not expressed in olfactory sensory neurons but is expressed throughout the life of the animal in the AIZ interneurons of the odorsensory pathway. We suggest that UNC-86 transcriptional activity regulates the expression of genes that mediate synaptic properties of AIZ and that hyperactive UNC-86::VP16 may enhance the expression of synaptic components to affect the capacity to analyze and process sensory information.