Resveratrol (RES), a polyphenolic compound present in grapes and red wine, has potential anticancer properties. The present study aimed to examine the effects of resveratrol and its underlying mechanism on hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cell lines HepG2, Bel-7402 and SMMC-7721. It was demonstrated that resveratrol inhibited the viability and proliferation of HCC cells assessed by MTT and EdU assays. TUNEL assay revealed that resveratrol induced cell apoptosis by increasing HCC apoptosis rate from 3±0.78% to 16±1.12% with upregulation of B-cell lymphoma (Bcl)-2 associated X, apoptosis regulator and cleaved-poly (ADP-Ribose) polymerase 1 (PARP), and downregulation of Bcl-2, caspase-3, caspase-7 and PARP. As a sirtuin (SIRT) 1 activator, resveratrol elevated SIRT1 protein expression and its enzyme activity and decreased expression levels of phosphorylated (p)-phosphoinositide-3-kinase (PI3K), p-AKT Serine/Threonine Kinase 1 (AKT), and its downstream target p-Forkhead Box O3a in HepG2 cells. Furthermore, inhibition of SIRT1 enzymatic activity by EX527 resulted in increased phosphorylation levels of PI3K and AKT. This demonstrated that resveratrol inhibited the PI3K/AKT pathway by SIRT1 activation. In addition to inhibition of cancer cell migration, tumor suppressor gene DLC1 Rho GTPase activating protein level was upregulated and its phosphorylation was enhanced by AKT with resveratrol treatment. These findings suggested that resveratrol inhibits proliferation and migration through SIRT1 mediated post-translational modification of PI3K/AKT pathway in HCC cells.