The effect of three chalcone derivatives namely, (E)-ethyl 2-(4-(3-(4-fluorophenyl)acryloyl)phenoxy)acetate (AE-1), (E)-ethyl 2-(4-(3-(3,4-dichlorophenyl)acryloyl)phenoxy)acetate (AE-2) and (E)-ethyl 2-(4-(3-(2,5-dimethoxyphenyl)acryloyl)phenoxy)acetate (AE-3) on the mild steel (MS) corrosion in 1.0 M HCl at 303 K has been investigated using experimental techniques such as electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS), potentiodynamic polarization (PDP) methods, weight loss measurements and computational studies. The chalcones derivatives show high inhibition activities and their adsorption on mild steel surface was found to follow the Langmuir adsorption model. PDP results revealed that chalcone derivatives act as a mixed type inhibitors. The results from EIS analysis reveal an increase in charge transfer resistance confirming the inhibitive ability of tested inhibitors. The electronic properties derived from, DFT calculations, molecular dynamic (MD) simulations and Radial Distribution Function (RDF) were used to give further insights into the action mode of studied chalcones. Theoretical results correlate well with the experimental efficiency. Surface morphology of the MS surface in absence and presence of chalcone derivatives was examined using Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) and Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM). © 2017 Elsevier B.V.