Cachexia is a wasting disorder of adipose and skeletal muscle tissues that leads to profound weight loss and frailty. About half of all cancer patients suffer from cachexia, which impairs quality of life, limits cancer therapy and decreases survival. One key characteristic of cachexia is higher resting energy expenditure levels than in healthy individuals, which has been linked to greater thermogenesis by brown fat. How tumours induce brown fat activity is unknown. Here, using a Lewis lung carcinoma model of cancer cachexia, we show that tumour-derived parathyroid-hormone-related protein (PTHrP) has an important role in wasting, through driving the expression of genes involved in thermogenesis in adipose tissues. Neutralization of PTHrP in tumour-bearing mice blocked adipose tissue browning and the loss of muscle mass and strength. Our results demonstrate that PTHrP mediates energy wasting in fat tissues and contributes to the broader aspects of cancer cachexia. Thus, neutralization of PTHrP might hold promise for ameliorating cancer cachexia and improving patient survival.