Cumulative evidence indicates that mitochondrial dysfunction has a role in heart failure progression, but whether mitochondrial quality control mechanisms are involved in the development of cardiac dysfunction remains unclear. Here we show that cytosolic p53 impairs autophagic degradation of damaged mitochondria and facilitates mitochondrial dysfunction and heart failure in mice. Prevalence and induction of mitochondrial autophagy is attenuated by senescence or doxorubicin treatment in vitro and in vivo. We show that cytosolic p53 binds to Parkin and disturbs its translocation to damaged mitochondria and their subsequent clearance by mitophagy. p53-deficient mice show less decline of mitochondrial integrity and cardiac functional reserve with increasing age or after treatment with doxorubicin. Furthermore, overexpression of Parkin ameliorates the functional decline in aged hearts, and is accompanied by decreased senescence-associated β-galactosidase activity and proinflammatory phenotypes. Thus, p53-mediated inhibition of mitophagy modulates cardiac dysfunction, raising the possibility that therapeutic activation of mitophagy by inhibiting cytosolic p53 may ameliorate heart failure and symptoms of cardiac ageing.