Acute T lymphocytic leukemia (T-ALL) is an aggressive hematologic resulting from the malignant transformation of T-cell progenitors. Drug resistance and relapse are major difficulties in the treatment of T-ALL. Here, we report the antitumor potency of NL-101, a compound that combines the nitrogen mustard group of bendamustine with the hydroxamic acid group of vorinostat. We found NL-101 exhibited efficient antiproliferative activity in T-ALL cell lines ([IC.sub.50] 1.59-1.89 [micro]M), accompanied by cell cycle arrest and apoptosis, as evidenced by the increased expression of Cyclin E1, CDK2, and CDK4 proteins and cleavage of PARP. In addition, this bendamustine-derived drug showed both a HDACi effect as demonstrated by histone hyperacetylation and p21 transcription and a DNA-damaging effect as shown by an increase in [gamma]-H2AX. Intriguingly, we found that NL-101- induced autophagy in T-ALL cells through inhibiting Akt-mTOR signaling pathway, as indicated by an increase in LC3-I to LC3-II conversion and decrease of p62. Furthermore, inhibition of autophagy by 3- methyladenine increased apoptotic cell death by NL-101, suggesting a prosurvival role of autophagy. In summary, our finding provides rationale for investigation of NL-101 as a DNA/ HDAC dual targeting drug in T-ALL, either as a single agent or in combination with autophagy inhibitors.