Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) is one of the deadliest cancers worldwide, and its morbidity is exacerbated by the lack of early symptoms. Bioinformatics analyses enable discovery of differentially expressed genes and non-protein-coding RNAs of potential prognostic and/or therapeutic relevance in ESCC and other cancers. Using bioinformatics tools, we searched for dysregulated miRNAs in two ESCC microarray datasets from the Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) database. After identification of three upregulated and five downregulated miRNAs shared between databases, protein-protein interaction (PPI) network analysis was used to identify the top 10 hub-gene targets. Thereafter, a miRNA-gene interaction network predicted that most hub genes are regulated by miR-196a-5p and miR-1-3p, which are respectively upregulated and downregulated in ESCC. Functional enrichment analyses in the GO and KEGG databases indicated the potential involvement of these miRNAs in tumorigenesis-related processes and pathways, while both differential expression and correlation with T stage were demonstrated for each miRNA in a cohort of ESCC patients. Overexpression showed that miR-196a-5p increased, whereas miR-1-3p attenuated, proliferation and invasion in human ESCC cell lines grown in vitro. These findings suggest miR-196a-5p and miR-1-3p jointly contribute to ESCC tumorigenesis and are potential targets for diagnosis and treatment.