Acute kidney injury (AKI) is a major kidney disease associated with a poor clinical outcome both in the short and long term. Autophagy is a cellular stress response that plays important roles in the pathogenesis of various diseases. Autophagy is induced in proximal tubules during AKI. A renoprotective role of autophagy in AKI has been demonstrated by pharmacological and genetic inhibition studies. The role of autophagy in kidney recovery and repair from AKI, however, remains largely unknown. A dynamic change in autophagy during the recovery phase of AKI seems to be important for tubular proliferation and repair. In renal fibrosis, autophagy may either promote this via the induction of tubular atrophy and decomposition, or prevent it via effects on the intracellular degradation of excessive collagen. Further research is expected to improve the understanding of the regulation of autophagy in kidney injury and repair, elucidate the pathological roles of autophagy in renal fibrosis, and discover therapeutic targets for treating AKI and preventing its progression to chronic kidney disease.