We have developed new, simple, and efficient procedures for the synthesis of two promising histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDIs), CI-994, (N-(2-aminophenyl)-4-acetylaminobenzamide), and MS-275 (N-(2-aminophenyl)4-[N-(pyridine-3-yl-methoxycarbonyl)aminomethyl]benzamide) from commercially available acetamidobenzoic acid and 3-(hydroxymethyl)pyridine, respectively. The procedures provide CI-994 and MS-275 in 80% and 72% overall yields, respectively. We found that the combination of four HDIs (CI-994, MS-275, SAHA, and TSA) with retinoids all-trans-retinoic acid (ATRA) or 13-cis-retinoic acid (13-CRA) or our atypical retinoic acid metabolism blocking agents (RAMBAs) 1 (VN/14-1) or 2 (VN/66-1) produced synergistic anti-neoplastic activity on human LNCaP prostate cancer cells. The combination of 2 and SAHA induced G1 and G2/M cell cycle arrest and a decrease in the S phase in LNCaP cells. 2+SAHA treatment effectively down-regulated cyclin D1 and cdk4, and up-regulated pro-differentiation markers cytokeratins 8/18 and pro-apoptotic Bad and Bax. Following subcutaneous administration, 2, SAHA or 2+SAHA were well tolerated and caused significant suppression/regression of tumor growth compared with control. These results demonstrate that compound 2 and its combination with SAHA are potentially useful agents that warrant further preclinical development for treatment of prostate cancer.