Lysosomes, classically considered as nonspecific systems for protein degradation, have recently also been shown to be able selectively to degrade specific intracellular proteins. Here we review this selective pathway of lysosomal protein degradation that involves cytosolic and intralysosomal chaperones and a receptor in the lysosomal membrane. This pathway is highly selective for cytosolic proteins containing a lysosomal targeting signal. The selective lysosomal degradation pathway is active under conditions of nutrient deprivation and plays an important role in the regulation of intracellular protein levels in stress situations. Several physiological and pathological modifications in the activity of this selective lysosomal pathway of protein degradation are discussed.