Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a life-threatening stem cell disease characterized by uncontrolled proliferation and accumulation of myeloblasts. Using an advanced RNAi screen-approach in an AML mouse model we have recently identified the epigenetic 'reader' BRD4 as a promising target in AML. In the current study, we asked whether inhibition of BRD4 by a small-molecule inhibitor, JQ1, leads to growth-inhibition and apoptosis in primary human AML stem- and progenitor cells. Primary cell samples were obtained from 37 patients with freshly diagnosed AML (n=23) or refractory AML (n=14). BRD4 was found to be expressed at the mRNA and protein level in unfractionated AML cells as well as in highly enriched CD34⁺/CD38⁻ and CD34⁺/CD38⁺ stem- and progenitor cells in all patients examined. In unfractionated leukemic cells, submicromolar concentrations of JQ1 induced major growth-inhibitory effects (IC₅₀ 0.05-0.5 µM) in most samples, including cells derived from relapsed or refractory patients. In addition, JQ1 was found to induce apoptosis in CD34+/CD38⁻ and CD34⁺/CD38⁺ stem- and progenitor cells in all donors examined as evidenced by combined surface/Annexin-V staining. Moreover, we were able to show that JQ1 synergizes with ARA-C in inducing growth inhibition in AML cells. Together, the BRD4-targeting drug JQ1 exerts major anti-leukemic effects in a broad range of human AML subtypes, including relapsed and refractory patients and all relevant stem- and progenitor cell compartments, including CD34⁺/CD38⁻ and CD34⁺/CD38⁺ AML cells. These results characterize BRD4-inhibition as a promising new therapeutic approach in AML which should be further investigated in clinical trials.