Long intergenic non-coding RNA Linc00472 has been considered as a tumor suppressor in some cancers. However, the function and mechanism of Linc00472 in colorectal cancer has not been well elucidated. In this study, we found that Linc00472 was down-regulated in colorectal cancer tissues and cells. Elevated Linc00472 expression suppressed proliferation and induced apoptosis in colorectal cancer cells. Moreover, Linc00472 acted as a competing endogenous RNA (ceRNA) of miR-196a to release programmed cell death 4 (PDCD4). Furthermore, miR-196a overexpression or PDCD4 knockdown reversed Linc00472-mediated proliferation inhibition and apoptosis induction in colorectal cancer cells. Ectopic Linc00472 expression hindered tumor growth in vivo. Our study demonstrated that Linc00472 suppressed proliferation and induced apoptosis through up-regulating PDCD4 by decoying miR-196a, which may be an effective therapeutic target for colorectal cancer.