Che-1 is a recently identified human RNA polymerase II binding protein involved in the regulation of gene transcription and cell proliferation. We previously demonstrated that Che-1 inhibits the Rb growth-suppressing function by interfering with Rb-mediated HDAC1 recruitment on E2F target gene promoters. By hybridization of cancer profile arrays, we found that Che-1 expression is strongly down-regulated in several tumors, including colon and kidney carcinomas, compared with the relative normal tissues. Consistent with these data, Che-1 overexpression inhibits proliferation of HCT116 and LoVo human colon carcinoma cell lines by activation of the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p21WAF1/Cip1 in a p53-independent manner and by promoting growth arrest at the G1 phase of the cell cycle. Che-1 activates p21WAF1/Cip1 by displacing histone deacetylase (HDAC)1 from the Sp1 binding sites of the p21WAF1/Cip1 gene promoter and accumulating acetylated histone H3 on these sites. Accordingly, Che-1-specific RNA interference negatively affects p21WAF1/Cip1 transactivation and increases cell proliferation in HCT116 cells. Taken together, our results indicate that Che-1 can be considered a general HDAC1 competitor and its down-regulation is involved in colon carcinoma cell proliferation.