Hypoxia plays a crucial role at cellular and physiological levels in all animals. The responses to chronic hypoxia are, at least substantially, orchestrated by activation of the hypoxia inducible transcription factors (HIFs), whose stability and subsequent transcriptional activation are regulated by HIF hydroxylases. Factor inhibiting HIF (FIH), initially isolated as a HIFα interacting protein following a yeast two-hybrid screen, is an asparaginyl hydroxylase that negatively regulates transcriptional activation by HIF. This study aimed to define the mechanisms that govern transitions of FIH between the nucleus and cytoplasm. We report that FIH accumulates in the nucleus within a short time window during hypoxia treatment. We provide evidence, based on the application of genetic interventions and small molecule inhibition of the HIF hydroxylases, that the nuclear localization of FIH is governed by two opposing processes: nuclear entry by 'coupling' with HIF1α for importin β1-mediated nuclear import and active export via a Leptomycin B-sensitive exportin1-dependent pathway.This article has an associated First Person interview with the first author of the paper.