Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis is characterized by hepatic steatosis, elevated levels of circulating free fatty acids (FFA) and hepatocyte lipoapoptosis. This lipoapoptosis requires increased JNK phosphorylation and activation of the pro-apoptotic BH3-only proteins Bim and PUMA. Kelch-like ECH-associated protein (Keap)-1 is a BTB/Kelch protein that can regulate the expression of Bcl-2 protein and control apoptotic cell death. Yet, the role of Keap1 in hepatocyte lipotoxicity is unclear. Here we demonstrate that Keap1 protein was rapidly degraded in hepatocytes, through autophagy in a p62-dependent manner, in response to the toxic saturated FFA palmitate, but not following incubation with the non-toxic FFA oleic acid. Stable knockdown of Keap1 expression, using shRNA technology, in hepatocarcinoma cell lines induced spontaneous cell toxicity that was associated with JNK1-dependent upregulation of Bim and PUMA protein levels. Also, Keap1 knockdown further sensitized hepatocytes to lipoapoptosis by palmitate. Likewise, primary hepatocytes isolated from liver-specific Keap1(-/-) mice displayed higher Bim and PUMA protein levels and demonstrated increased sensitivity to palmitate-induced apoptosis than wild-type mouse hepatocytes. Finally, stable knockdown of Bim or PUMA expression prevented cell toxicity induced by loss of Keap1. These results implicate p62-dependent autophagic degradation of Keap1 by palmitate as a mechanism contributing to hepatocyte lipoapoptosis.