Plasminogen activator inhibitor type-1 (PAI-1), a major regulator of the plasmin-dependent pericellular proteolytic cascade, is prominently expressed during the tissue response to injury although the factors that impact PAI-1 induction and their role in the repair process are unclear. Kinetic modeling using established biomarkers of cell cycle transit (c-MYC; cyclin D1; cyclin A) in synchronized human (HaCaT) keratinocytes, and previous cytometric assessments, indicated that PAI-1 transcription occurred early after serum-stimulation of quiescent (G0) cells and prior to G1 entry. It was established previously that differential residence of USF family members (USF1→USF2 switch) at the PE2 region E box (CACGTG) characterized the G0 → G1 transition period and the transcriptional status of the PAI-1 gene. A consensus PE2 E box motif (5′-CACGTG-3′) at nucleotides −566 to −561 was required for USF/E box interactions and serum-dependent PAI-1 transcription. Site-directed CG → AT substitution at the two central nucleotides inhibited formation of USF/probe complexes and PAI-1 promoter-driven reporter expression. A dominant-negative USF (A-USF) construct or double-stranded PE2 “decoy” attenuated serum- and TGF-β1-stimulated PAI-1 synthesis. Tet-Off induction of an A-USF insert reduced both PAI-1 and PAI-2 transcripts while increasing the fraction of Ki-67+ cells. Conversely, overexpression of USF2 or adenoviral-delivery of a PAI-1 vector inhibited HaCaT colony expansion indicating that the USF1 → USF2 transition and subsequent PAI-1 transcription are critical events in the epithelial go-or-grow response. Collectively, these data suggest that USF2, and its target gene PAI-1, regulate serum-stimulated keratinocyte growth, and likely the cadence of cell cycle progression in replicatively competent cells as part of the injury repair program. J. Cell. Biochem. 115: 1840–1847, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.