We report the emerging role of microRNA (miRNA) deregulation associated with activation of an oncogene SOX4 (a member of the SRY-related HMG-box) in esophageal carcinoma. Paired esophageal cancer and adjacent non-tumor tissues were obtained from 42 patients who underwent primary surgical resection for esophageal cancer. Experiments such as real-time PCR, western blot analysis, luciferase-reporter assay, cell proliferation and colony formation assays, in vitro migration and invasion assays, and a wound-healing assay were performed to determine the effects of miR-129-2. We found that SOX4 expression was elevated (P<0.005) in esophageal tumors (n=42) when compared with its expression in the controls (n=42). Compared with the normal esophageal tissues, the expression of miR-129-2 was downregulated in 27 of 31 primary esophageal tumors, while the expression of SOX4 was upregulated (P<0.001). Restoration of miR-129-2 by transfection with an miRNA expression plasmid led to a decrease in SOX4 expression, which was accompanied by reduced migration and proliferation of the cancer cells. These results suggest that aberrant expression of SOX4 is associated with repression of miR-129-2, and restoration of miR-129-2 suppresses the migration and proliferation of esophageal cancer cells. Our results demonstrated that the deregulation of miR-129-2 leads to aberrant SOX4 expression, presenting a new paradigm in which the restoration of miRNA suppresses its oncogenic target in esophageal cancer.