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Cancer cells have an increased requirement for iron than normal cells, and iron chelators are under active consideration for cancer treatment. The metal-sequestering potential and antiproliferative mechanisms of a novel hydroxyphenyl hydrazone derivate YCL0426 were investigated here. Antiproliferative activity of YCL0426 was detected by MTT assay. The iron-sequestering potential was evaluated by ferrozine–Fe(II) sequestering assay and Fe(II) titration assay. Cell-cycle-arresting profile was checked by flow cytometry and the DNA synthesis status was evaluated by BrdU incorporation assay. SW480 cells stably expressing Rad51-EGFP fusion protein were used to evaluate the DNA damaging potential of the compound. The impact of extra Fe(II) supplement on compound activities was also examined. YCL0426 shows significant antiproliferative activity on 15 cancer cell lines with mean IC50 values of 5.25 μmol/l. YCL0426 displayed concentration-dependent Fe(II) sequestering ability in ferrozine–Fe(II) sequestering assay, and induced upregulation of transferrin receptor 1 and divalent metal transporter 1 expression in HepG2 cells, which are genes responsible for Fe(II) uptake. YCL0426 blocked DNA synthesis in BrdU incorporation assay, and arrested cell cycle at S or G1 phase. Besides, YCL0426 induced Rad51 foci formation and histone H2AX phosphorylation with EC50 values of 1.35 and 2.29 μmol/l, respectively, indicating the emergence of DNA damage. All these cellular responses, and even the growth-inhibiting activity of YCL0426, can be readily reversed by Fe(II) repletion, indicating that iron sequestering is responsible, at least in part, for the antiproliferative activity of YCL0426. YCL0426 is a potent iron chelator that exerts significant antiproliferative activities by inducing G1/S arrest and DNA damage.