Due to the high-level of metastatic and relapsed rates, rhabdomyosarcoma (RD) patients have a poor prognosis, and novel treatment strategies are required. Thereby, the present study evaluated the efficacy of PFK15, a PFKFB3 inhibitor, in RD cells to explore its potential underlying mechanism on the regulation of autophagy and proliferation in these cells. The effects of PFK15 on cell viability loss and cell death in different treatment groups, were evaluated by MTS assay, colony growth assay and immunoblotting, respectively. In addition, the autophagy levels were detected by electron microscopy, fluorescence microscopy and immunoblotting following PFK15 treatment, and the autophagic flux was analyzed with the addition of chloroquine diphosphate salt or by monitoring the level of p62. PFK15 was observed to evidently decrease the viability of RD cells, inhibit the colony growth and cause abnormal nuclear morphology. Furthermore, PFK15 inhibited the autophagic flux and cell proliferation, as well as induced apoptotic cell death in RD cells through downregulation of the adenosine monophosphate‑activated protein kinase (AMPK) signaling pathway. An AMPK agonist rescued the inhibited cell proliferation and autophagy induced by PFK15. In conclusion, PFK15 inhibits autophagy and cell proliferation via downregulating the AMPK signaling pathway in RD cells.