Background: It has been shown that proteasome inhibition leads to growth arrest in the G1 phase of the cell cycle and/or induction of apoptosis. However, it was found that some of these inhibitors do not induce apoptosis in several human normal cell lines. This selective activity makes proteasome inhibition a promising target for new generation of anticancer drugs. Clinical validation of the proteasome, as a therapeutic target in oncology, has been provided by the dipeptide boronic acid derivative; bortezomib. Bortezomib has proven to be effective as a single agent in multiple myeloma and some forms of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Syringic acid (4-hydroxy-3,5-dimethoxybenzoic acid, 1), a known phenolic acid, was isolated from the methanol extract of Tamarix aucheriana and was shown to possess proteasome inhibitory activity.Methods: Using Surflex-Dock program interfaced with SYBYL, the docking affinities of syringic acid and its proposed derivatives to 20S proteasome were studied. Several derivatives were virtually proposed, however, five derivatives: benzyl 4-hydroxy-3,5-dimethoxybenzoate (2), benzyl 4-(benzyloxy)-3,5-dimethoxybenzoate (3), 3'-methoxybenzyl 3,5-dimethoxy-4-(3'-methoxybenzyloxy)benzoate (4), 3'-methoxybenzyl 4-hydroxy-3,5-dimethoxybenzoate (5) and 3',5'-dimethoxybenzyl 4-hydroxy-3,5-dimethoxybenzoate (6), were selected based on high docking scores, synthesized, and tested for their anti-mitogenic activity against human colorectal, breast and malignant melanoma cells as well as normal human fibroblast cells.Results: Derivatives 2, 5, and 6 showed selective dose-dependent anti-mitogenic effect against human malignant melanoma cell lines HTB66 and HTB68 with minimal cytotoxicity on colorectal and breast cancer cells as well as normal human fibroblast cells. Derivatives 2, 5 and 6 significantly (p ≤ 0.0001) inhibited the various proteasomal chymotrypsin, PGPH, and trypsin like activities. They growth arrested the growth of HTB66 cells at G1 and G2-phases. They also arrested the growth of HTB68 cells at S- and G2-phase, respectively. Moreover, derivatives 2, 5, and 6 markedly induced apoptosis (≥ 90%) in both HTB66 and HTB68.Conclusions: Computer-derived syringic acid derivatives possess selective anti-mitogenic activity on human malignant melanoma cells that may be attributed to perturbation of cell cycle, induction of apoptosis and inhibition of various 26S proteasomal activities.