In recent years, inhibition of HDACs has emerged as a potential strategy to reverse aberrant epigenetic changes associated with cancer, and several classes of HDAC inhibitors have been found to have potent and specific anticancer activities in preclinical studies. But their precise mechanism of action has not been elucidated. In this study, a novel synthetic inhibitor of HDAC, 3-(4-di-methylamino phenyl)-N-hydroxy-2-propenamide [IN-2001] was examined for its antitumor activity and the underlying molecular mechanisms of any such activity on human breast cancer cell lines. IN-2001 effectively inhibited cellular HDAC activity (IC 50 = 0.585 nM) inMDA-MB-231 human breast cancer cells. IN-2001 caused a significant dose-dependent inhibition of cell proliferation in estrogen receptor (ER) negative MDA-MB-231human breast cancer cells. Cell cycle analysis revealed that the growth inhibitory effects of IN-2001 might be attributed to cell cycle arrest at G 0/G 1 and/or G 2/Mphase and subsequent apoptosis in human breast cancer cells. These events are accompanied by modulating several cell cycle and apoptosis regulatory genes such as CDK inhibitors p21 WAF1 and p27 KIP1 cyclin D1, and other tumor suppressor genes such as cyclin D2. Collectively, IN-2001 inhibited cell proliferation and induced apoptosis in human breast cancer cells and these findings may provide new therapeutic approaches, combination of antiestrogen together with a HDAC inhibitor, in the hormonal therapy-resistant ER-negative breast cancers. In summary, our data suggest that this histone deacetylase inhibitor, IN-2001, is a novel promising therapeutic agent with potent antitumor effects against human breast cancers.