Background Despite the recent advances in chemotherapy, the outcomes and the success of these treatments still remain insufficient. Novel combination treatments and treatment strategies need to be developed in order to achieve more effective treatment. This study was designed to investigate the combined effect of ethacrynic acid and cinnamic acid on cancer cell lines. Methods The anti-proliferative effect of ethacrynic acid and cinnamic acid was investigated by MTT cell viability assay in three different cancer cell lines. Combination indexes were calculated using CompuSyn software. Apoptosis was assessed by flow cytometric Annexin V-FITC/PI double-staining. The effect of the inhibitors on cell cycle distribution was measured by propidium iodide staining. Results The combination treatment of ethacrynic acid and cinnamic acid decreased cell proliferation significantly, by 63%, 75% and 70% for K562, HepG2 and TFK-1 cells, respectively. A 5.5-fold increase in the apoptotic cell population was observed after combination treatment of K562 cells. The population of apoptotic cells increased by 9.3 and 0.4% in HepG2 and TFK-1 cells, respectively. Furthermore, cell cycle analysis shows significant cell cycle arrest in S and G2/M phase for K562 cells and non-significant accumulation in G0/G1 phase for TFK-1 and HepG2 cells. Conclusions Although there is a need for further investigation, our results suggest that the inhibitors used in this study cause a decrease in cellular proliferation, induce apoptosis and cause cell cycle arrest.