is widely used in Southeast Asian countries for the treatment of fever, headache, diarrhea, and stroke. Magnolol is a phenolic compound extracted from , with proven antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer activities. In this study, we modified magnolol to synthesize a methoxylated derivative, 2-O-methylmagnolol (MM1), and investigated the use of MM1, and magnolol in the treatment of liver cancer. We found that both magnolol and MM1 exhibited inhibitory effects on the growth, migration, and invasion of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cell lines and halted the cell cycle at the G1 phase. MM1 also demonstrated a substantially better tumor-suppressive effect than magnolol. Further analysis suggested that by inhibiting class I histone deacetylase expression in HCC cell lines, magnolol and MM1 induced p21 expression and p53 activation, thereby causing cell cycle arrest and inhibiting HCC cell growth, migration, and invasion. Subsequently, we verified the significant tumor-suppressive effects of magnolol and MM1 in an animal model. Collectively, these findings demonstrate the anti-HCC activities of magnolol and MM1 and their potential for clinical use.