Cytoplasmic protein in hepatocytes is sequestered and degraded by two general classes of lysosomes, overt autophagic vacuoles (macroautophagy) and dense bodies (microautophagy). Volumes of the apparent space in each class that contain the internalized protein, together with estimates of cytoplasmic protein concentration, were used as a basis for predicting rates of protein degradation by the lysosomal system in livers of fed, 48-hr starved, and starved-refed mice. Assuming that the turnover of all sequestered protein is equal to that previously determined in overt autophagic vacuoles (0.087 min-1), we obtained close agreement between predicted and observed rates in the three conditions studied. The two autophagic components, though, exhibited different patterns of regulation. Microautophagy followed a downward course through starvation and into refeeding, a trend that explained fully the fall in absolute rates of protein degradation during starvation. By contrast, macroautophagy remained constant throughout starvation but was virtually abolished with refeeding. Whereas regulation of the latter can be explained largely by immediate responses to the supply of amino acids, present evidence together with results of others indicate that microsequestration could be linked to functional and quantitative alterations in the smooth endoplasmic reticulum. Both types of regulation contributed equally to the marked suppression of proteolysis during cytoplasmic regrowth.