Reversible acetylation has emerged as a key post-translational modification of proteins. Although the number of acetylated proteins is rapidly growing, the ways in which protein acetyltransferases and deacetylases connect with extracellular stimuli remain unclear. Recently, a regulatory network has emerged that controls the expression and activity of SIRT1, a mammalian class-III protein deacetylase. SIRT1 is an important regulator of metabolism, senescence, cancer and, possibly, longevity and is connected with crucial stress-responsive signal-transduction pathways. These connections provide important clues about how protein acetylation and deacetylation mediate cellular adaptations to extrinsic stress.