Using luciferase reporter constructs driven by specific promoter response elements, we developed a series of stable reporter cell lines for monitoring the activity of specific transcription factors (TFs). These TFs, which play essential roles in regulating diverse biological functions, include nuclear factor kappaB (NFkappaB), cyclic AMP response element-binding protein, activator protein 1, signal transducer and activator of transcription 1 and 3, nuclear factor of activated T cells, serum response factor, and hypoxia-inducible factor. The response of the stable reporter cells was highly specific. For example, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNFalpha) strongly activated NFkappaB reporter cells, but not other cell lines. The NFkappaB reporter was active in multiple cell lines, including 293T, HeLa, A549, and NIH3T3 cells, in response to TNFalpha, indicating that this system is useful to monitor specific TFs in different model cell lines. To facilitate high throughput screening of these cell lines, they were adapted to a 96-well format. These stable reporter cells are also applicable for the analysis of steroid hormone receptors, which bind directly to the response element after ligand binding. With the HeLa/glucocorticoid response element-luciferase stable reporter cells, we were able to discriminate pharmacological activity of different compounds for the glucocorticoid receptor. Taken together, these results demonstrate that the stable reporter cells are useful tools for: (1) detection of signaling pathway-specific ligands; (2) identification of novel ligands for specific TFs, and (3) screening for agonists and antagonists of specific ligands/receptors.