How cellular metabolic activities regulate autophagy and determine the susceptibility to oxidative stress and ultimately cell death in neuronal cells is not well understood. An important example of oxidative stress is 4-hydroxynonenal (HNE), which is a lipid peroxidation product that is formed during oxidative stress, and accumulates in neurodegenerative diseases causing damage. The accumulation of toxic oxidation products such as HNE, is a prevalent feature of neurodegenerative diseases, and can promote organelle and protein damage leading to induction of autophagy. In this study, we used differentiated SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells to investigate the mechanisms and regulation of cellular susceptibility to HNE toxicity and the relationship to cellular metabolism. We found that autophagy is immediately stimulated by HNE at a sublethal concentration. Within the same time frame, HNE induces concentration dependent CASP3/caspase 3 activation and cell death. Interestingly, both basal and HNE-activated autophagy, were regulated by glucose metabolism. Inhibition of glucose metabolism by 2-deoxyglucose (2DG), at a concentration that inhibited autophagic flux, further exacerbated CASP3 activation and cell death in response to HNE. Cell death was attenuated by the pan-caspase inhibitor Z-VAD-FMK. Specific inhibition of glycolysis using koningic acid, a GAPDH inhibitor, inhibited autophagic flux and exacerbated HNE-induced cell death similarly to 2DG. The effects of 2DG on autophagy and HNE-induced cell death could not be reversed by addition of mannose, suggesting an ER stress-independent mechanism. 2DG decreased LAMP1 and increased BCL2 levels suggesting that its effects on autophagy may be mediated by more than one mechanism. Furthermore, 2DG decreased cellular ATP, and 2DG and HNE combined treatment decreased mitochondrial membrane potential. We conclude that glucose-dependent autophagy serves as a protective mechanism in response to HNE. © 2013 Landes Bioscience.