This review focuses on the posttranslational acetylation of non-histone proteins, which determines vital regulatory processes. The recruitment of histone acetyltransferases and histone deacetylases to the transcriptional machinery is a key element in the dynamic regulation of genes controlling cellular proliferation and differentiation. A steadily growing number of identified acetylated non-histone proteins demonstrate that reversible lysine acetylation affects mRNA stability, and the localisation, interaction, degradation and function of proteins. Interestingly, most non-histone proteins targeted by acetylation are relevant for tumourigenesis, cancer cell proliferation and immune functions. Therefore inhibitors of histone deacetylases are considered as candidate drugs for cancer therapy. Histone deacetylase inhibitors alter histone acetylation and chromatin structure, which modulates gene expression, as well as promoting the acetylation of non-histone proteins. Here, we summarise the complex effects of dynamic alterations in the cellular acetylome on physiologically relevant pathways.