Dnmt3a1 and Dnmt3a2 are two de novo DNA methyltransferases expressed in mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs). They differ in that a 219-amino-acid (aa) amino (N)-terminal noncatalytic domain is present only in Dnmt3a1. Here, we examined the unique functions of Dnmt3a1 in mESCs by targeting the coding sequence of the Dnmt3a1 N-terminal domain tagged with enhanced green fluorescent protein (GFP) for insertion into the mouse Rosa26 locus. Using these targeted cells (GFP-3a1Nter), we showed that Dnmt3a1 was efficiently recruited to the silenced Oct3/4 and activated Vtn (vitronectin) gene promoters via its unique N-terminal domain. This recruitment affected the two genes in contrasting ways, compromising Oct3/4 gene promoter DNA methylation to prevent consolidation of the silent state while significantly reducing Vtn transcription. We used this negative effect of the Dnmt3a1 N-terminal domain to investigate the extent of transcriptional regulation by Dnmt3a1 in mESCs by using microarrays. A small group of all-trans retinoic acid (tRA)-inducible genes had lower transcript levels in GFP-3a1Nter cells than in wild-type mESCs. Intriguingly, this group included genes that are important for fetal nutrition, placenta development, and metabolic functions and is enriched for a distinct set of imprinted genes. We also identified a larger group of genes that showed higher transcript levels in the GFP-3a1Nter-expressing cells than in wild-type mESCs, including pluripotency factors and key regulators of primordial germ cell differentiation. Thus, Dnmt3a1 in mESCs functions primarily as a negative and to a lesser extent as a positive regulator of transcription. Our findings suggest that Dnmt3a1 positively affects transcription of specific genes at the promoter level and targets chromosomal domains to epigenetically silence gene clusters in mESCs.