Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a leading cause of cancer death worldwide, yet effective therapeutic options for advanced HCC are limited. This study was aimed at assessing the antitumor effect of a novel phenylbutyrate-derived histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor, OSU-HDAC42, vis-à-vis suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid (SAHA), in in vitro and in vivo models of human HCC. OSU-HDAC42 was several times more potent than SAHA in suppressing the viability of PLC5, Huh7, and Hep3B cells with submicromolar median inhibitory concentration (IC50) values. With respect to SAHA, OSU-HDAC42 exhibited greater apoptogenic potency, which was associated with reduced levels of the apoptotic regulators phosphorylated Akt B-cell lymphoma-xL, survivin, cellular inhibitor of apoptosis protein 1, and cellular inhibitor of apoptosis protein 2. The in vivo efficacy of OSU-HDAC42 versus SAHA was assessed in orthotopic and subcutaneous xenograft tumor models in athymic nude mice. Daily oral treatments with OSU-HDAC42 and SAHA, both at 25 mg/kg, suppressed the growth of orthotopic PLC5 tumor xenografts by 91% and 66%, respectively, and of established subcutaneous PLC5 tumor xenografts by 85% and 56%, respectively. This differential tumor suppression correlated with the modulation of intratumoral biomarkers associated with HDAC inhibition and apoptosis regulation. Moreover, the oral administration of OSU-HDAC42 at 50 mg/kg every other day markedly suppressed ectopic tumor growth in mice bearing large tumor burdens (500 mm3) at the start of treatment. Conclusion: OSU-HDAC42 is a potent, orally bioavailable inhibitor of HDAC with a broad spectrum of antitumor activity that includes targets regulating multiple aspects of cancer cell survival. These results suggest that OSU-HDAC42 has clinical value in therapeutic strategies for HCC. (HEPATOLOGY 2007.)