Recent reports showing successful inhibition of cancer and leukemia cell growth using histone deacetylase inhibitor (HDACi) compounds have highlighted the potential use of HDACi as anti-cancer agents. However, high incidence of toxicity and low stability in vivo were observed with hydroxamic acid-based HDACi such as suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid (SAHA), thus limiting its clinical applicability. In this study, we found that a novel non-hydroxamate HDACi NCH-51 could inhibit the cell growth of a variety of lymphoid malignant cells through apoptosis induction, more effectively than SAHA. Activation of caspase-3, -8 and -9, but not -7 was detected after the treatment with NCH-51. Gene expression profiles showed that NCH-51 and SAHA similarly upregulated p21 and downregulated anti-apoptotic molecules including survivin, bcl-w and c-FLIP. Proteome analysis using two-dimensional electrophoresis revealed that NCH-51 upregulated anti-oxidant molecules including peroxiredoxin 1 and 2 and glutathione S-transferase at the protein level. Interestingly, NCH-51 induced reactive oxygen species (ROS) after 8 h whereas SAHA continuously declined ROS. Pretreatment with an antioxidant, N-acetyl-L-cysteine, abolished the cytotoxicity of NCH-51. These findings suggest that NCH-51 exhibits cytotoxicity by sustaining ROS at the higher level greater than SAHA. This study indicates the therapeutic efficacy of NCH-51 and novel insights for anti-HDAC therapy.