A major difficulty of producing induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) has been the low efficiency of reprogramming differentiated cells into pluripotent cells. We previously showed that 5% of mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) were reprogrammed into iPSCs when they were transduced with a fusion gene composed of Oct4 and the transactivation domain of MyoD (called M 3O), along with Sox2, Klf4 and c-Myc (SKM). In addition, M 3O facilitated chromatin remodeling of pluripotency genes in the majority of transduced MEFs, including cells that did not become iPSCs. These observations suggested the possibility that more than 5% of cells had acquired the ability to become iPSCs given more favorable culture conditions. Here, we raised the efficiency of making mouse iPSCs with M 3O-SKM to 26% by culturing transduced cells at low density in serum-free culture medium. In contrast, the efficiency increased from 0.1% to only 2% with the combination of wild-type Oct4 and SKM (OSKM) under the same culture condition. For human iPSCs, M 3O-SKM achieved 7% efficiency under a similar serum-free culture condition, in comparison to 1% efficiency with OSKM. This study highlights the power of combining the transactivation domain of MyoD with a favorable culture environment.