Previously, we reported that cancerous inhibitor of protein phosphatase 2A (CIP2A) mediates the apoptotic effect of bortezomib in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Here, we report a proteasome-independent mechanism by which bortezomib induces autophagy in HCC. Our data indicate that bortezomib activated autophagy in a dose- and time- dependent manner in HCC cell lines including Huh-7, Sk-Hep1, and Hep3B. Bortezomib downregulated CIP2A, phospho-Akt (P-Akt) and phospho-4EBP1 (P-4EBP1) in a dose- and time-dependent manner in all tested HCC cells. Ectopic expression of CIP2A abolished the effect of bortezomib on autophagy. Co-treatment of bortezomib and calyculin A, a PP2A inhibitor, reduced the effect of bortezomib on P-Akt, P-4EBP1, and autophagy. Increased phosphorylation of either Akt or 4EBP1 by ectopic overexpression protected cells from bortezomib-induced autophagy. Furthermore, we examined the effect of ΔBtz, a bortezomib derivative that closely resembles bortezomib structurally but has no proteasome activity, in HCC. Interestingly, ΔBtz demonstrated similar effects to bortezomib on autophagy, CIP2A, P-Akt and P-4EBP1, suggesting that the effect of bortezomib on autophagy is independent of proteasome inhibition. Moreover, our in vivo data showed that both bortezomib and ΔBtz inhibited tumor growth, downregulated CIP2A, P-Akt and induced autophagy in Huh-7 tumors. In conclusion, bortezomib induces autophagy in HCC through a CIP2A-PP2A-Akt-4EBP1 pathway.