The precise nature of information flow through a biological network, which is governed by factors such as response sensitivities and noise propagation, greatly affects the operation of biological systems. Quantitative analysis of these properties is often difficult in naturally occurring systems but can be greatly facilitated by studying simple synthetic networks. Here, we report the construction of synthetic transcriptional cascades comprising one, two, and three repression stages. These model systems enable us to analyze sensitivity and noise propagation as a function of network complexity. We demonstrate experimentally steady-state switching behavior that becomes sharper with longer cascades. The regulatory mechanisms that confer this ultrasensitive response both attenuate and amplify phenotypical variations depending on the system's input conditions. Although noise attenuation allows the cascade to act as a low-pass filter by rejecting short-lived perturbations in input conditions, noise amplification results in loss of synchrony among a cell population. The experimental results demonstrating the above network properties correlate well with simulations of a simple mathematical model of the system.