The EGFR (epidermal growth factor receptor) signaling pathway is frequently deregulated in many malignancies. Therefore, targeting the EGFR pathway is regarded as a promising strategy for anticancer drug discovery. Herein, we identified a 2-amino-nicotinonitrile compound (w09) as a novel autophagy enhancer, which potently induced macroautophagy/autophagy and consequent apoptosis in gastric cancer cells. Mechanistic studies revealed that EGFR-mediated activation of the RAS-RAF1-MAP2K-MAPK1/3 signaling pathway played a critical role in w09-induced autophagy and apoptosis of gastric cancer cells. Inhibition of the MAPK1/3 pathway with U0126 or blockade of autophagy by specific chemical inhibitors markedly attenuated the effect of w09-mediated growth inhibition and caspase-dependent apoptosis. Furthermore, these conclusions were supported by knockdown of ATG5 or knockout of ATG5 and/or ATG7. Notably, w09 increased the expression of SQSTM1 by transcription, and knockout of SQSTM1 or deleting the LC3-interaction region domain of SQSTM1, significantly inhibited w09-induced PARP1 cleavage, suggesting the central role played by SQSTM1 in w09-induced apoptosis. In addition, in vivo administration of w09 effectively inhibited tumor growth of SGC-7901 xenografts. Hence, our findings not only suggested that activation of the EGFR-RAS-RAF1-MAP2K-MAPK1/3 signaling pathway may play a critical role in w09-induced autophagy and apoptosis, but also imply that induction of autophagic cancer cell death through activation of the EGFR pathway may be a potential therapeutic strategy for EGFR-disregulated gastric tumors.