Extracellular communication mediated by exosomes in a tumor microenvironment can substantially affect tumor progression. However, the effect of exosomal long non-coding RNA SENP3-EIF4A1 on hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is still unclear. In this study, SENP3-EIF4A1 expressions in patients with HCC and healthy controls were detected and compared. Results showed that SENP3-EIF4A1 was significantly reduced in HCC tissues and exosomes from the plasma of patients with HCC (P<0.05) and was primarily encapsulated by exosomes. The patients with HCC and the healthy controls could be distinguished using exosomal SENP3-EIF4A1 (AUC=0.8028). The transfer of exosomal SENP3-EIF4A1 secreted by normal cells to HCC cells stimulated apoptosis and weakened the invasion and migration abilities of HCC cells to suppress their malignant biological behavior (P<0.05). Additionally, exosomal SENP3-EIF4A1 was capable of inhibiting tumor growth in vivo and modulating the expression of ZFP36 by competitively binding to miR-9-5p. In conclusion, exosomal SENP3-EIF4A1 is a new favorable biomarker for clinically detecting HCC, and SENP3-EIF4A1 can be transmitted by exosomes from normal cells to HCC cells to inhibit the in vitro and in vivo development of HCC. Thus, exosomal SENP3-EIF4A1 is involved in the communication between normal cells and HCC cells during the onset of HCC.