Sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) lyase irreversibly cleaves S1P, thereby catalysing the ultimate step of sphingolipid degradation. We show here that embryonic fibroblasts from S1P lyase-deficient mice ( Sgpl1 −/−-MEFs), in which S1P and sphingosine accumulate, have features of Niemann-Pick disease type C (NPC) cells. In the presence of serum, overall cholesterol content was elevated in Sgpl1 −/−-MEFs, due to upregulation of the LDL receptor and enhanced cholesterol uptake. Despite this, activation of sterol regulatory element-binding protein-2 was increased in Sgpl1 −/−-MEFs, indicating a local lack of cholesterol at the ER. Indeed, free cholesterol was retained in NPC1-containing vesicles, which is a hallmark of NPC. Furthermore, upregulation of amyloid precursor protein in Sgpl1 −/−-MEFs was mimicked by an NPC1 inhibitor in Sgpl1 +/+-MEFs and reduced by overexpression of NPC1. Lysosomal pH was not altered by S1P lyase deficiency, similar to NPC. Interestingly, lysosomal Ca 2+ content and bafilomycin A1-induced [Ca 2+] i increases were enhanced in Sgpl1 −/−-MEFs, contrary to NPC. These results show that both a primary defect in cholesterol trafficking and S1P lyase deficiency cause overlapping phenotypic alterations, and challenge the present view on the role of sphingosine in lysosomal Ca 2+ homeostasis.