Circular RNAs (circRNAs) are newly-discovered endogenous non-coding RNAs that have vital functions in regulating gene expression in tumorigenesis. Nonetheless, the function of circRNAs in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) are not yet clarified. In this analysis, hsa_circ_0079480, a novel circRNA, has been identified as being highly expressed in AML. Loss-of-function assays showed that reduction of hsa_circ_0079480 decreased the growth and stimulated apoptosis of AML cells in vitro. Furthermore, miR-654-3p was sponged by hsa_circ_0079480, and hepatoma-derived growth factor (HDGF) was targeted by miR-654-3p with respect to the fundamental mechanism. Moreover, the influence on growth and apoptosis of AML cells stimulated by hsa_circ_0079480 inhibition can be rescued by miR-654-3p inhibitor or HDGF overexpression. In summary, hsa_circ_0079480 is highly expressed in AML and drives by tumor progression via regulation of hsa_circ_0079480/miR-654-3p/HDGF axis, indicating that hsa_circ_0079480 may function as a new treatment target for AML therapy.