Based on the osteogenic effect, triiodothyronine (T3) plays an important role in bone growth and development. Autophagy contributes to osteoblast formation and subsequent osteogenesis. Our study aims to explore the relationship among T3, autophagy and osteogenesis. In this study, cranial primary osteoblasts were obtained from 2 to 3 weeks-old Sprague Dawley (SD) rat fetuses. Osteoblasts were treated with T3, and then the autophagic parameters of Osteoblasts (including autophagic proteins, LC3 conversion rate and autophagosome formation) were observed through Western Blotting and Transmission Electron Microscopy. Next, after using autophagic pharmacological inhibitors (3-MA and chloroquine) and silencing vectors of autophagic genes (BECN1, Atg5 and Atg7) to downregulate autophagic activity, osteoblast proliferation and osteoblastic gene expression were detected using cell counting kit-8 (CCK-8) and quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) assays, respectively. Ultimately, the mice treated with partial thyroidectomy (PTx mice) were used to further observe the effect of T3 on the formation and autophagy of osteoblasts in trabecular bone in vivo. Our results show that T3 enhances osteoblast autophagy. Autophagy suppression with 3-MA, chloroquine or autophagy-genes knockdown reverses T3-promoted osteoblast formation. In vivo assays showed that the formation and autophagy of osteoblasts in bone tissue were reduced in T3-deficient young mice. Overall, T3 can promote osteoblast formation by activation of autophagy.Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier B.V.