The coronavirus mouse hepatitis virus (MHV) performs RNA replication on double membrane vesicles (DMVs) in the cytoplasm of the host cell. However, the mechanism by which these DMVs form has not been determined. Using genetic, biochemical, and cell imaging approaches, the role of autophagy in DMV formation and MHV replication was investigated. The results demonstrated that replication complexes co-localize with the autophagy proteins, microtubule-associated protein light-chain 3 and Apg12. MHV infection induces autophagy by a mechanism that is resistant to 3-methyladenine inhibition. MHV replication is impaired in autophagy knockout, APG5-/-, embryonic stem cell lines, but wild-type levels of MHV replication are restored by expression of Apg5 in the APG5-/-cells. In MHV-infected APG5-/-cells, DMVs were not detected; rather, the rough endoplasmic reticulum was dramatically swollen. The results of this study suggest that autophagy is required for formation of double membrane-bound MHV replication complexes and that DMV formation significantly enhances the efficiency of replication. Furthermore, the rough endoplasmic reticulum is implicated as the possible source of membranes for replication complexes.