Telomeres are essential for maintaining cellular proliferative capacity and their loss has been implicated in ageing. A key regulator in telomere maintenance is the telomeric protein TRF1, which was also identified as Pin2 in a screen for Pin1. Pin1 is a unique prolyl isomerase that regulates protein conformation and function after phosphorylation. However, little is known about the role of Pin1 in telomere regulation or the modulation of TRF1 by upstream signals. Here we identify TRF1 as a major conserved substrate for Pin1 during telomere maintenance and ageing. Pin1 inhibition renders TRF1 resistant to protein degradation, enhances TRF1 binding to telomeres, and leads to gradual telomere loss in human cells and in mice. Pin1-deficient mice also show widespread premature ageing phenotypes within just one generation, similar to those in telomerase-deficient mice after 4-5 consecutive generations. Thus, Pin1 is an essential regulator of TRF1 stability, telomere maintenance and ageing.