Redox and proteotoxic stress contributes to age-dependent accumulation of dysfunctional mitochondria and protein aggregates, and is associated with neurodegeneration. The free radical theory of aging inspired many studies using reactive species scavengers such as alpha-tocopherol, ascorbate and coenzyme Q to suppress the initiation of oxidative stress. However, clinical trials have had limited success in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. We ascribe this to the emerging literature which suggests that the oxidative stress hypothesis does not encompass the role of reactive species in cell signaling and therefore the interception with reactive species with antioxidant supplementation may result in disruption of redox signaling. In addition, the accumulation of redox modified proteins or organelles cannot be reversed by oxidant intercepting antioxidants and must then be removed by alternative mechanisms. We have proposed that autophagy serves this essential function in removing damaged or dysfunctional proteins and organelles thus preserving neuronal function and survival. In this review, we will highlight observations regarding the impact of autophagy regulation on cellular bioenergetics and survival in response to reactive species or reactive species generating compounds, and in response to proteotoxic stress.