The tumor suppressor p53 has recently been shown to regulate energy metabolism through multiple mechanisms. However, the in vivo signaling pathways related to p53-mediated metabolic regulation remain largely uncharacterized. By using mice bearing a single amino acid substitution at cysteine residue 305 of mouse double minute 2 (Mdm2(C305F)), which renders Mdm2 deficient in binding ribosomal proteins (RPs) RPL11 and RPL5, we show that the RP-Mdm2-p53 signaling pathway is critical for sensing nutrient deprivation and maintaining liver lipid homeostasis. Although the Mdm2(C305F) mutation does not significantly affect growth and development in mice, this mutation promotes fat accumulation under normal feeding conditions and hepatosteatosis under acute fasting conditions. We show that nutrient deprivation inhibits rRNA biosynthesis, increases RP-Mdm2 interaction, and induces p53-mediated transactivation of malonyl-CoA decarboxylase (MCD), which catalyzes the degradation of malonyl-CoA to acetyl-CoA, thus modulating lipid partitioning. Fasted Mdm2(C305F) mice demonstrate attenuated MCD induction and enhanced malonyl-CoA accumulation in addition to decreased oxidative respiration and increased fatty acid accumulation in the liver. Thus, the RP-Mdm2-p53 pathway appears to function as an endogenous sensor responsible for stimulating fatty acid oxidation in response to nutrient depletion.