MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are the class of small noncoding RNAs, and play an important role in the regulation of gene expression at the posttranscriptional level. In this study, we explored the effect of miR-129-1-3p on the growth and cell cycle of human gastric cancer cell line BGC-823. The miR-129-1-3p mimics or inhibitors were transfected into the BGC-823 cell line, and the cell cycle and cell growth was measured by flow cytometry and real-time cell analyzer, respectively. The possible targets of miR-129-1-3p were analyzed by quantitative real time-PCR (QRT-PCR), Western blotting and Luciferase reporter assay. The results showed that miR-129-1-3p could promote the growth and cell cycle of BGC-823 cells. Although protein expression of programmed cell death 2 (PDCD2) was not changed with miR-129-1-3p, QRT-PCR showed that expression of PDCD2 mRNA was negatively related to the miR-129-1-3p. Luciferase reporter assay revealed that PDCD2 is one of the targets of miR-129-1-3p. Our results indicated that miR-129-1-3p might promote proliferation of BGC-823 cells by targeting PDCD2. Anat Rec, 297:2273–2279, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.