Abstract The catalytic activity of the histone deacetylase (HDAC) is directly relevant to the pathogenesis of cancer, and HDAC inhibitors represented a promising strategy for cancer therapy. SAHA (suberoanilide hydroxamic acid), an effective HDAC inhibitor, is an anti-cancer agent against T-cell lymphoma. However, SAHA has adverse effects such as poor pharmacokinetic properties and severe toxicities in clinical use. In order to identify better HDAC inhibitors, a compound database was established by core hopping of SAHA, which was then docked into HDAC-8 (PDB ID: 1T69) active site to select a number of candidates with higher docking score and better interaction with catalytic zinc ion. Further ADMET prediction was done to give ten compounds. Molecular dynamics simulation of the representative compound 101 was performed to study the stability of HDAC8-inhibitor system. This work provided an approach to design novel high-efficiency HDAC inhibitors with better ADMET properties.