The posttranslational modification of histones plays an important role in chromatin regulation. Histone methylation influences constitutive heterochromatin, genomic imprinting, X-chromosome inactivation and gene transcription. Histone demethylase catalyzes the removal of methyl groups on lysine or arginine residues of histones. Two kinds of histone lysine demethylases have been identified, including lysine specific demethylase 1 and Jumonji C (JmjC) domain family proteins. These histone demethylases are involved in the regulation of gene expression. Histone modification is a dynamic process, and the imbalance of histone methylation has been linked to cancers. Therefore, histone demethylases may represent a new target for anti-cancer therapy.