The role of the individual histone deacetylases (HDACs) in the regulation of cancer cell proliferation was investigated using siRNA-mediated protein knockdown. The siRNA for HDAC3 and HDAC1 demonstrated significant morphological changes in HeLa S3 consistent with those observed with HDAC inhibitors. SiRNA for HDAC 4 or 7 produced no morphological changes in HeLa S3 cells. HDAC1 and 3 siRNA produced a concentration-dependent inhibition of HeLa cell proliferation; whereas, HDAC4 and 7 siRNA showed no effect. HDAC3 siRNA caused histone hyperacetylation and increased the percent of apoptotic cells. These results demonstrate that the Class I HDACs such as HDACs 1 and 3 are important in the regulation of proliferation and survival in cancer cells. These results and the positive preclinical results with non-specific inhibitors of the HDAC enzymes provide further support for the development of Class I selective HDAC inhibitors as cancer therapeutics.