Extracellular matrix (ECM) mechanical cues have powerful effects on cell proliferation, differentiation and death. Here, starting from an unbiased metabolomics approach, we identify synthesis of neutral lipids as a general response to mechanical signals delivered by cell-matrix adhesions. Extracellular physical cues reverberate on the mechanical properties of the Golgi apparatus and regulate the Lipin-1 phosphatidate phosphatase. Conditions of reduced actomyosin contractility lead to inhibition of Lipin-1, accumulation of SCAP/SREBP to the Golgi apparatus and activation of SREBP transcription factors, in turn driving lipid synthesis and accumulation. This occurs independently of YAP/TAZ, mTOR and AMPK, and in parallel to feedback control by sterols. Regulation of SREBP can be observed in a stiffened diseased tissue, and contributes to the pro-survival activity of ROCK inhibitors in pluripotent stem cells. We thus identify a general mechanism centered on Lipin-1 and SREBP that links the physical cell microenvironment to a key metabolic pathway.