Macroautophagy/autophagy is emerging as an important process in adult muscle stem cells functions: it regulates metabolic reprogramming during activation from a quiescent state, maintains stemness and prevents senescence. We now show that autophagy is specifically required for neonatal myogenesis and muscle development. Specific deletion of Atg7 in PAX7+(paired box 7) precursors led in mice to a dwarf phenotype, with an effect restricted to the neonatal phase of muscle development. Atg7 knockdown suppressed neonatal satellite cell (nSC) proliferation and differentiation, downregulating the GH-IGF1 functions. When we disrupted autophagy, NFE2L2/NRF2 (nuclear factor, erythroid 2 like 2) accumulated in muscle and nSCs and negatively modulated DDIT3/CHOP (DNA-damage inducible transcript 3) expression. Lower levels of DDIT3 were responsible for reduced GHR expression leading to impaired local production of IGF1. Our results conclusively identify a novel autophagy-dependent pathway that regulates nSC behavior and indicate that autophagy is required for skeletal muscle development in the neonatal phase. Abbreviations: AKT/protein kinase B: Thymoma viral proto-oncogene; ASCs: adult stem cells; ATF4: activating transcription factor 4; ATG7: autophagy related 7; BAT: brown adipose tissue; BMP: bone morphogenetic protein; CEBPB: CCAAT/enhancer binding protein (C/EBP), beta; CSA: cross sectional area; CTNNB1: catenin (cadherin associated protein), beta 1; DDIT3: DNA-damage inducible transcript 3; DM: differentiation medium; E: embryonic stage; EIF2AK3/PERK; EIF4EBP1: eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2 alpha kinase 3; eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E binding protein 1; ER: endoplasmic reticulum; FGF21: fibroblast growth factor 21; GH: growth hormone; GHR: growth hormone receptor; HSCs: hematopoietic stem cells; IGF1: insulin-like growth factor 1; ITGAM: integrin alpha M; KEAP1: kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1; LY6A/Sca-1; MAP1LC3: lymphocyte antigen 6 complex, locus A; microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3; MAPK1/ERK2: mitogen-activated protein kinase 1; MAPK3/ERK1: mitogen-activated protein kinase 3; miRNAs: microRNAs; MSCs: mesenchymal stem cells; MTOR: mechanistic target of rapamycin kinase; mtUPR: mitochondrial unfolded protein response; MYF5: myogenic factor 5; MYH: myosin, heavy polypeptide; MYOD1: myogenic differentiation 1; MYOG: myogenin; NFE2L2: nuclear factor, erythroid derived 2, like 2; nSC: neonatal satellite cells; NSCs: neuronal stem cells; P: postnatal day; PAX7: paired box 7; PECAM1: platelet/endothelial cell adhesion molecule 1; PPARG: peroxisome proliferator activated receptor gamma; PTPRC: protein tyrosine phosphatase, receptor type, C; ROS: reactive oxygen species; RPS6: ribosomal protein S6; SCs: adult satellite cells; SQSTM1: sequestosome 1; STAT5: signal transducer and activator of transcription 5; TGFB1: transforming growth factor beta 1; WAT: white adipose tissue; WT: wild type. © 2018, © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.