The lysosome has long been viewed as the recycling center of the cell. However, recent discoveries have challenged this simple view and have established a central role of the lysosome in nutrient-dependent signal transduction. The degradative role of the lysosome and its newly discovered signaling functions are not in conflict but rather cooperate extensively to mediate fundamental cellular activities such as nutrient sensing, metabolic adaptation, and quality control of proteins and organelles. Moreover, lysosome-based signaling and degradation are subject to reciprocal regulation. Transcriptional programs of increasing complexity control the biogenesis, composition, and abundance of lysosomes and fine-tune their activity to match the evolving needs of the cell. Alterations in these essential activities are, not surprisingly, central to the pathophysiology of an ever-expanding spectrum of conditions, including storage disorders, neurodegenerative diseases, and cancer. Thus, unraveling the functions of this fascinating organelle will contribute to our understanding of the fundamental logic of metabolic organization and will point to novel therapeutic avenues in several human diseases.