This study is aimed to investigate the combined treating efficacy of sodium butyrate and docetaxel on proliferation and apoptosis of the lung adenocarcinoma A549 cell line based on Gli1 regulation in vitro and in vivo. RNA interference method was used to overexpress Gli1 in A549 cells. Cells were treated with varying concentrations of sodium butyrate, docetaxel or both in combination. CCK-8, colony formation assay, Hoechst 33258 staining, flow cytometry and TUNEL assay were employed to detect proliferation, cell cycle and apoptosis. qRT-PCR and Western blot analysis were applied to detect the mRNA and protein expression of Gli1. In vivo tumorigenicity was detected by tumor transplantation in nude mice. Downstream protein levels of Gli1 were detected using Western blot assay. It was found that sodium butyrate or docetaxel alone, respectively, inhibited proliferation and promoted apoptosis of A549 cells in vitro and in vivo, while the combination of the two generated significantly higher responses, which were also effective in another lung adenocarcinoma cell line H1299. Furthermore, the combined therapy had an additive effect in suppressing Gli1 expression and regulating the expression of its downstream proteins that involve in proliferation, cell cycle and apoptosis of A549 cells in vitro and in vivo, including decreased protein expression of Ki-67, CDK1, CDK2, Cyclin D1, Bcl-2 and Survivin, and increased protein expression of Cyclin A, p21, Bax and cleaved-Caspase 3. On the other hand, Gli1 overexpression perceptibly reversed the above-mentioned additive effect in vitro and in vivo. This study demonstrates that the combined therapy of sodium butyrate and docetaxel additively inhibits proliferation and promotes apoptosis of A549 lung adenocarcinoma cells via suppressing Gli1 expression in vitro and in vivo. Targeting Gli1 by the combined therapy may provide new insights into the therapeutic management of patients with lung adenocarcinoma.