Reactive oxygen species (ROS) have an important role in regulating various cellular processes. Our previous study confirmed that selenite, an anti-tumour agent, triggered apoptosis through the production of ROS in multiple types of cancer cells. In this study, we discovered that ROS also inhibited protective autophagy by decreasing the expression of ULK1, an initiator of autophagy, in selenite-treated NB4 cells. Further experiments demonstrated that p-p53 (S392), a phosphorylation event promoted by p70S6K, bound to the promoter of ULK1 and modulated its expression. Experiments in a mouse tumour model with NB4 cells provided in vivo confirmation of the alterations in the p70S6K/p53/ULK1 axis. Collectively, our results show that ROS inhibited autophagy by downregulating the p70S6K/p53/ULK1 axis in selenite-treated NB4 cells.