AIM To investigate the expression profile of miRNA in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). METHODS The expression profile of miRNA in ESCC tissues was analyzed by miRNA microarray. The expression levels of miR-143 and miR-145 in 86 ESCC patients were determined by real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) using TaqMan assay. The mobility effect was estimated by wound-healing using esophageal carcinoma cells transfected with miRNA expression plasmids. RESULTS A set of miRNAs was found to be deregulated in the ESCC tissues, and the expression levels of miR-143 and -145 were significantly decreased in most of the ESCC tissues examined. Both miR-143 and miR-145 expression correlated with tumor invasion depth. The transfection of human esophageal carcinoma cells with miR-143 and miR-145 expression plasmids resulted in a greater inhibition of cell mobility, however, the protein level of the previously reported target of miR-145, FSCN1, did not show any significant downregulation. CONCLUSION These findings suggest that the deregulation of miRNAs plays an important role in the progression of ESCC. Both miR-143 and miR-145 might act as anti-oncomirs common to ESCC.