The formation of intra-neuronal mutant protein aggregates is a characteristic of several human neurodegenerative disorders, like Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease (PD) and polyglutamine disorders, including Huntington's disease (HD). Autophagy is a major clearance pathway for the removal of mutant huntingtin associated with HD, and many other disease-causing, cytoplasmic, aggregate-prone proteins. Autophagy is negatively regulated by the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) and can be induced in all mammalian cell types by the mTOR inhibitor rapamycin. It can also be induced by a recently described cyclical mTOR-independent pathway, which has multiple drug targets, involving links between Ca(2+)-calpain-G(salpha) and cAMP-Epac-PLC-epsilon-IP(3) signalling. Both pathways enhance the clearance of mutant huntingtin fragments and attenuate polyglutamine toxicity in cell and animal models. The protective effects of rapamycin in vivo are autophagy-dependent. In Drosophila models of various diseases, the benefits of rapamycin are lost when the expression of different autophagy genes is reduced, implicating that its effects are not mediated by autophagy-independent processes (like mild translation suppression). Also, the mTOR-independent autophagy enhancers have no effects on mutant protein clearance in autophagy-deficient cells. In this review, we describe various drugs and pathways inducing autophagy, which may be potential therapeutic approaches for HD and related conditions.