Inhibition of Histone Deacetylases inhibitors (HDACi) hold great promise in cancer therapy due to their demonstrated ability to arrest proliferation of nearly all transformed cell types. Of the several structurally distinct small molecules HDACi reported, macrocyclic depsipeptides have the most complex recognition cap-group moieties and present an excellent opportunity for the modulation of the biological activities of HDACi. Unfortunately, the structure–activity relationship (SAR) studies for this class of compounds have been impaired largely because most macrocyclic HDACi known to date are comprised of complex peptide macrocycles. In addition to retaining the pharmacologically disadvantaged peptidyl-backbone, they offer only limited opportunity for side-chain modifications. Here we report the discovery of a new class of macrocyclic HDACi based on the macrolide antibiotics skeletons. SAR studies revealed that these compounds displayed both linker-length and macrolidetype dependent HDAC inhibition activities with IC50 in low nanomolar range. In addition, these nonpeptide macrocyclic HDACi are more selective against HDAC 1 and 2 relative to HDAC 8, another class I HDAC isoform, hence have sub-class HDAC isoform selectivity.