We recently found that a small molecule 2[[3-(2,3-dichlorophenoxy)propyl]amino]ethanol (2,3-DCPE) could induce apoptosis and downregulate Bcl-XL expression in various cancer cells. Here, we found that 2,3-DCPE suppressed the proliferation of Bcl-XL-overexpressing cancer cells without inducing apoptosis. Subsequently, we found that 2,3-DCPE could induce S-phase arrest and upregulate p21 but not p27 at a time- and dose-dependent but p53-dispensable manner in DLD-1 human colon cancer cells. Activation of ERK was also detected after treatment with 2,3-DCPE. Moreover, p21 induction was dramatically attenuated by ERK inhibitors PD98059 and U0126. Induction of p21 and S-phase arrest and corresponding activation of ERK were also observed in ATM-defective cells, suggesting that 2,3-DCPE-induced these events were ATM-dispensable. Furthermore, ERK inhibitors dramatically attenuated 2,3-DCPE-induced S-phase arrest. Together, our data indicate that ERK activation correlated with the 2,3-DCPE-mediated induction of p21 expression and S-phase arrest. This finding may have implication for cancer therapy.