The rate of proteolysis is an important determinant of the intracellular protein content. Part of the degradation of intracellular proteins occurs in the lysosomes and is mediated by macroautophagy. In liver, macroautophagy is very active and almost completely accounts for starvation-induced proteolysis. Factors inhibiting this process include amino acids, cell swelling and insulin. In the mechanisms controlling macroautophagy, protein phosphorylation plays an important role. Activation of a signal transduction pathway, ultimately leading to phosphorylation of ribosomal protein S6, accompanies inhibition of macroautophagy. Components of this pathway may include a heterotrimeric Gi3-protein, phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase and p70S6 kinase. Recent evidence indicates that lysosomal protein degradation can be selective and occurs via ubiquitin-dependent and -independent pathways.