Over the past years, it has been found that the epigenetic silence of tumor suppressor genes induced by overexpression of histone deacetylases (HDACs) plays an important role in carcinogenesis. Thus, HDAC inhibitors have emerged as the accessory therapeutic agents for multiple human cancers, since they can block the activity of specific HDACs, restore the expression of some tumor suppressor genes and induce cell differentiation, growth arrest and apoptosis. To date, the precise mechanisms by which HDAC inhibitors induce cell death have not yet been fully elucidated and the roles of individual HDAC inhibitors have not been identified. Moreover, the practical uses of HDAC inhibitors in cancer therapy, as well as their synergistic effects with other therapeutic strategies are yet to be evaluated. In this review article, we discuss briefly the recent advances in studies of the developments of anti-cancer HDAC inhibitors and their potential clinical value.