Embryonic stem cells are maintained in a self-renewing and pluripotent state by multiple regulatory pathways. Pluripotent-specific transcriptional networks are sequentially reactivated as somatic cells reprogram to achieve pluripotency. How epigenetic regulators modulate this process and contribute to somatic cell reprogramming is not clear. Here we performed a functional RNAi screen to identify the earliest epigenetic regulators required for reprogramming. We identified components of the SAGA histone acetyltransferase complex, in particular Gcn5, as critical regulators of reprogramming initiation. Furthermore, we showed in mouse pluripotent stem cells that Gcn5 strongly associates with Myc and that, upon initiation of somatic reprogramming, Gcn5 and Myc form a positive feed-forward loop that activates a distinct alternative splicing network and the early acquisition of pluripotency-associated splicing events. These studies expose a Myc–SAGA pathway that drives expression of an essential alternative splicing regulatory network during somatic cell reprogramming.