Valosin containing protein (p97) is a chaperone implicated in a large number of biological processes including endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-associated protein degradation and autophagy. Silencing of p97 in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) synovial fibroblasts (RASFs) increased the amount of polyubiquitinated proteins, whereas silencing of its interaction partner histone deacetylase 6 (HDAC6) had no effect. Furthermore, silencing of p97 in RASFs increased not only rates of apoptotic cell death induced by TRAIL but also induced an autophagy-associated cell death during ER stress that was accompanied by the formation of polyubiquitinated protein aggregates and large vacuoles. Finally, we demonstrated an anti-arthritic effect of siRNAs targeting p97 in collagen-induced arthritis in rats. Our data indicate that p97 may be a new potential target in the treatment of RA.