Autophagy is the main process for bulk protein and organelle recycling in cells under extracellular or intracellular stress. Deregulation of autophagy has been associated with pathological conditions such as cancer, muscular disorders and neurodegeneration. Necrotic cell death underlies extensive neuronal loss in acute neurodegenerative episodes such as ischemic stroke. We find that excessive autophagosome formation is induced early during necrotic cell death in C. elegans. In addition, autophagy is required for necrotic cell death. Impairment of autophagy by genetic inactivation of autophagy genes or by pharmacological treatment suppresses necrosis. Autophagy synergizes with lysosomal catabolic mechanisms to facilitate cell death. Our findings demonstrate that autophagy contributes to cellular destruction during necrosis. Thus, interfering with the autophagic process may protect neurons against necrotic damage in humans.