Histone deacetylases (HDACs) are involved in multiple physical and pathological processes in classical Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL). The prognostic value of HDACs in cHL patients has not been discussed. The aim of the current study is to investigate the HDAC1, HDAC2, HDAC3, and HDAC11 expressions, and to evaluate the correlation of HDAC1, HDAC2, HDAC3, and HDAC11 expressions with the survival rate in cHL patients. We retrospectively analyzed clinicopathological data of 28 patients who were diagnosed with cHL between August 2002 and March 2010. Immunohistochemistry was used to detect the expression of HDAC1, HDAC2, HDAC3, and HDAC11 in these patients. The results showed that HDAC1, HDAC3, and HDAC11 were expressed at a higher level in Hodgkin Reed-Sternberg cells, whereas HDAC2 was expressed at a lower level in Hodgkin Reed-Sternberg cells. The expression of HDAC2 had a relationship with pathological type (P=0.012). There was also a correlation between the expression of HDAC11 and the erythrocyte sedimentation rate (P=0.054). Other clinicopathological parameters had no significant correlation with the expression of HDAC1, HDAC2, HDAC3, and HDAC11 in terms of survival (P>0.05). The 10-year total survival rate by Cox multivariate analysis, after taking into account all clinical and pathologic factors, showed that bulky disease retained significance (P=0.028). Higher expression of HDAC1 predicted shorter progression-free survival and overall survival (OS) in cHL patients (P<0.05, in both cases), and higher expression of HDAC11 might be correlated with lower OS (P=0.05). The study showed that the expressions of HDAC2 and HDAC11 have a particular relationship with the pathologic subtype. Increased expression of HDAC1 was correlated negatively with progression-free survival and OS, and increased expression of HDAC11 had a borderline relationship with the OS rate in patients with cHL.