Macroautophagy is a process that leads to the bulk degradation of subcellular constituents by producing autophagosomes/autolysosomes. It is believed that Atg5 (ref. 4) and Atg7 (ref. 5) are essential genes for mammalian macroautophagy. Here we show, however, that mouse cells lacking Atg5 or Atg7 can still form autophagosomes/autolysosomes and perform autophagy-mediated protein degradation when subjected to certain stressors. Although lipidation of the microtubule-associated protein light chain 3 (LC3, also known as Map1lc3a) to form LC3-II is generally considered to be a good indicator of macroautophagy, it did not occur during the Atg5/Atg7-independent alternative process of macroautophagy. We also found that this alternative process of macroautophagy was regulated by several autophagic proteins, including Unc-51-like kinase 1 (Ulk1) and beclin 1. Unlike conventional macroautophagy, autophagosomes seemed to be generated in a Rab9-dependent manner by the fusion of isolation membranes with vesicles derived from the trans-Golgi and late endosomes. In vivo, Atg5-independent alternative macroautophagy was detected in several embryonic tissues. It also had a function in clearing mitochondria during erythroid maturation. These results indicate that mammalian macroautophagy can occur through at least two different pathways: an Atg5/Atg7-dependent conventional pathway and an Atg5/Atg7-independent alternative pathway.