The dynamics of gene expression are regulated by histone acetylases (HATs) and histone deacetylases (HDACs) that control the acetylation state of lysine side chains of the histone proteins of chromatin. The catalytic activity of these two enzymes remodels chromatin to control gene expression without altering gene sequence. Treatment of cancer has been the primary target for the clinical development of HDAC inhibitors, culminating in approval for the first HDAC inhibitor for the treatment of cutaneous T cell lymphoma. Beyond cancer, HDAC inhibition has potential for the treatment of many other diseases. The HDAC inhibitors phenylbutyric acid, valproic acid, and suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid (SAHA) have been shown to correct errant gene expression, ameliorate the progression of disease, and restore absent synthetic or metabolic activities for a diverse group of non-cancer disorders. These benefits have been found in patients with sickle cell anemia, HIV, and cystic fibrosis. In vitro and in vivo models of spinal muscular atrophy, muscular dystrophy, and neurodegenerative, and inflammatory disorders also show response to HDAC inhibitors. This review examines the application of HDAC inhibition as a treatment for a wide-range of non-cancer disorders, many of which are rare diseases that urgently need therapy. Inhibition of the HDACs has general potential as a pharmacological epigenetic approach for gene therapy.