Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha (PPARalpha) regulates the utilization of fat as an energy source during starvation and is the molecular target for the fibrate dyslipidemia drugs. Here, we identify the endocrine hormone fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) as a mediator of the pleiotropic actions of PPARalpha. FGF21 is induced directly by PPARalpha in liver in response to fasting and PPARalpha agonists. FGF21 in turn stimulates lipolysis in white adipose tissue and ketogenesis in liver. FGF21 also reduces physical activity and promotes torpor, a short-term hibernation-like state of regulated hypothermia that conserves energy. These findings demonstrate an unexpected role for the PPARalpha-FGF21 endocrine signaling pathway in regulating diverse metabolic and behavioral aspects of the adaptive response to starvation.