Autophagy is an important homoeostatic mechanism for the lysosomal degradation of protein aggregates and damaged cytoplasmic components. Recent studies suggest that autophagy which is induced by TGF-β1 suppresses kidney fibrosis in renal tubular epithelial cells (RTECs) of obstructed kidneys. Sphingosine kinase 1(SK1), converting sphingosine into endogenous sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P), was shown to modulate autophagy and involved in the processes of fibrotic diseases. Since SK1 activity is also up-regulated by TGF-β1, we explored its effect on the induction of autophagy and development of renal fibrosis in this study. In vitro, SK1 expression and activity were markedly increased by TGF-β1 stimulation in a time and concentration dependent manner, and concomitant changes in autophagic response were observed in HK-2 cells. Further, knockdown of SK-1 led to a decrease of autophagy whereas overexpression of SK1 caused a greater induction of autophagy. In addition, overexpression of SK1 resulted in decreased of mature TGF-β levels through autophagic degradation. In vivo, SK1 enzymatic activity and autophagic response were both up-regulated in a mouse model of kidney fibrosis induced by unilateral ureteral obstruction (UUO); meanwhile, increased of mature TGF-β1 and deposition of extracellular matrix (ECM) were observed in tubulointerstitial areas compared with sham-operated mice. However, aggravation of renal fibrosis was detected when SK1 inhibitor PF-543 was applied to suppress SK1 enzymatic activity in UUO mice. At the same time, autophagy was also inhibited by PF-543. Thus, our findings suggest that SK1 activation is renoprotective via induction of autophagy in the fibrotic process.