Autophagy degrades cellular components and organelles through a cooperative process involving autophagosomes and lysosomes. Although autophagy is known to mainly regulate the turnover of cellular components, the role of autophagy in melanogenesis has not been well addressed. Here, we show that inhibition of autophagy suppresses the antimelanogenesis activity of resveratrol (RSV), a well-known antimelanogenic agent. RSV strongly increased autophagy in melanocytes. However, the depletion of ATG5 significantly suppressed RSV-mediated antimelanogenesis as well as RSV-induced autophagy in melanocytes. Moreover, suppression of ATG5 retrieved the RSV-mediated downregulation of tyrosinase and TRP1 in α-MSH-treated cells. Most importantly, electron microscopy analysis revealed that autophagosomes engulfed melanin or melanosomes after combined treatment of α-MSH and RSV. Taken together, these results suggest that RSV-mediated autophagy regulates melanogenesis. © 2014 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.