3-Hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase (HMGR), the key regulatory enzyme in the mevalonate (MVA) pathway, is rapidly degraded in mammalian cells supplemented with sterols or MVA. This accelerated turnover was blocked by N-acetyl-leucyl-leucyl-norleucinal (ALLN), MG-132, and lactacystin, and to a lesser extent by N-acetyl-leucyl-leucyl-methional (ALLM), indicating the involvement of the 26 S proteasome. Proteasome inhibition led to enhanced accumulation of high molecular weight polyubiquitin conjugates of HMGR and of HMGal, a chimera between the membrane domain of HMGR and β-galactosidase. Importantly, increased amounts of polyubiquitinated HMGR and HM-Gal were observed upon treating cells with sterols or MVA. Cycloheximide inhibited the sterol-stimulated degradation of HMGR concomitantly with a marked reduction in polyubiquitination of the enzyme. Inhibition of squalene synthase with zaragozic acid blocked the MVA- but not sterol-stimulated ubiquitination and degradation of HMGR. Thus, similar to yeast, the ubiquitinproteasome pathway is involved in the metabolically regulated turnover of mammalian HMGR. Yet, the data indicate divergence between yeast and mammals and suggest distinct roles for sterol and nonsterol metabolic signals in the regulated ubiquitination and degradation of mammalian HMGR.