Mechanisms that maintain proliferation and delay cell differentiation in the intestinal crypt are not yet fully understood. We have previously shown the implication of histone methylation in the regulation of enterocytic differentiation. In this study, we investigated the role of histone deacetylation as an important epigenetic mechanism that controls proliferation and differentiation of intestinal cells using the histone deacetylase inhibitor suberanilohydroxamic acid (SAHA) on the proliferation and differentiation of human and mouse intestinal cells. Treatment of newly confluent Caco-2/15 cells with SAHA resulted in growth arrest, increased histone acetylation and up-regulation of the expression of intestine-specific genes such as those encoding sucrase-isomaltase, villin and the ion exchanger SLC26A3. Although SAHA has been recently used in clinical trials for cancer treatment, its effect on normal intestinal cells has not been documented. Analyses of small and large intestines of mice treated with SAHA revealed a repression of crypt cell proliferation and a higher expression of sucrase-isomaltase in both segments compared to control mice. Expression of SLC26A3 was also significantly up-regulated in the colons of mice after SAHA administration. Finally, SAHA was also found to strongly inhibit normal human intestinal crypt cell proliferation in vitro. These results demonstrate the important implication of epigenetic mechanisms such as histone acetylation/deacetylation in the regulation of normal intestinal cell fate and proliferation.