HIF-1α (hypoxia-inducible factor 1 alpha) is believed to promote oesophageal squamous tumour growth. Thus, an HIF-1α inhibitor is viewed as a therapeutic target in treating oesophageal cancer. Recently, YC-1 [3-(5′-hydroxymethyl-2′-furyl)-1-benzylindazole] has been widely used as a potential HIF-1α inhibitor and is being developed as a novel anticancer drug. However, little is known about the effects of YC-1 in human oesophageal cancer. In the present study, we aimed to investigate these effects in an esophageal squamous cancer cell line; i.e. Eca109 cells. We found that YC-1 abolished the hypoxia-induced up-regulation of HIF-1α. YC-1 arrested cell growth and inhibited cell migration activities in Eca109 cells. These results suggest that YC-1 may be a chemotherapy candidate against oesophageal squamous cancers.