Caveolin-1 (Cav-1) is the principal structural component of caveolae, and its dysregulation occurs in cancer. However, the role of Cav-1 in pancreatic cancer (PDAC) tumorigenesis and metabolism is largely unknown. In this study, we aimed to investigate the effect of pancreatic stellate cell (PSC) Cav-1 on PDAC metabolism and aggression. We found that Cav-1 is expressed at low levels in PDAC stroma and that the loss of stromal Cav-1 is associated with poor survival. In PSCs, knockdown of Cav-1 promoted the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), while ROS production further reduced the expression of Cav-1. Positive feedback occurs in Cav-1-ROS signalling in PSCs, which promotes PDAC growth and induces stroma-tumour metabolic coupling in PDAC. In PSCs, positive feedback in Cav-1-ROS signalling induced a shift in energy metabolism to glycolysis, with up-regulated expression of glycolytic enzymes (hexokinase 2 (HK-2), 6-phosphofructokinase (PFKP) and pyruvate kinase isozyme type M2 (PKM2)) and transporter (Glut1) expression and down-regulated expression of oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) enzymes (translocase of outer mitochondrial membrane 20 (TOMM20) and NAD(P)H dehydrogenase [quinone] 1 (NQO1)). These events resulted in high levels of glycolysis products such as lactate, which was secreted by up-regulated monocarboxylate transporter 4 (MCT4) in PSCs. Simultaneously, PDAC cells took up these glycolysis products (lactate) through up-regulated MCT1 to undergo OXPHOS, with down-regulated expression of glycolytic enzymes (HK-2, PFKP and PKM2) and up-regulated expression of OXPHOS enzymes (TOMM20 and NQO1). Interrupting the metabolic coupling between the stroma and tumour cells may be an effective method for tumour therapy.© 2020 The Authors. Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine published by Foundation for Cellular and Molecular Medicine and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.