Herein we report novel pyrrole- and benzene-based hydroxamates (8, 10) and 2′-aminoanilides (9, 11) bearing the tert-butylcarbamate group at the CAP moiety as histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors. Compounds 8 b and 10 c selectively inhibited HDAC6 at the nanomolar level, whereas the other hydroxamates effected an increase in acetyl-α-tubulin levels in human acute myeloid leukemia U937 cells. In the same cell line, compounds 8 b and 10 c elicited 18.4 and 21.4 % apoptosis, respectively (SAHA: 16.9 %), and the pyrrole anilide 9 c displayed the highest cytodifferentiating effect (90.9 %). In tests against a wide range of various cancer cell lines to determine its antiproliferative effects, compound 10 c exhibited growth inhibition from sub-micromolar (neuroblastoma LAN-5 and SH-SY5Y cells, chronic myeloid leukemia K562 cells) to low-micromolar (lung H1299 and A549, colon HCT116 and HT29 cancer cells) concentrations. In HT29 cells, 10 c increased histone H3 acetylation, and decreased the colony-forming potential of the cancer cells by up to 60 %.