Histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors cause growth arrest at the G1 and/or G2/M phases, and induce differentiation and/or apoptosis in a wide variety of tumour cells. The growth arrest at G1 phase by HDAC inhibitors is thought to be highly dependent on the upregulation of p21/WAF1, but the precise mechanism by which HDAC inhibitors cause G2/M arrest or apoptosis in tumour cells is unknown. Gadd45 causes cell cycle arrest at the G2/M phase transition and participates in genotoxic stress-induced apoptosis. We show here that it is also induced by a typical HDAC inhibitor, trichostatin A (TSA), through its promoter, in a p53-independent manner. To identify the mechanism of activation of the gadd45 promoter, we performed luciferase reporter analyses and electrophoretic mobility shift assays. These revealed that both the Oct-1 and CCAAT sites are needed for the full activation by TSA. We also found that the transcription factors Oct-1 and NF-Y specifically bind to each site. Thus, HDAC inhibitors can induce Gadd45 through its promoter without the need for functional p53, and both the Oct-1 and NF-Y concertedly participate in TSA-induced activation of the gadd45 promoter.