Background Autophagy has been found to be involved in the Multidrug resistance (MDR) of cancers, but whether it is associated with resistance of small cell lung cancer (SCLC) has not been studied. Here, we hypothesized that a potential autophagy-regulating miRNA, miR-199a-5p, regulated cisplatin-resistant SCLC. Methods We validated the MDR of H446/EP using CCK-8 and LDH. We tested the binding of miR-199a-5p to p62 using the Dual-Luciferase assay and validated the association of miR-199a-5p and p62 in SCLC samples. We overexpressed (OE) and knocked down (KD) miR-199a-5p in H446 and H446/EP and determined the expression of miR-199a-5p, autophagy-related proteins, and the formation of autophagolysosomes using QPCR, western blotting, and MDC staining respectively. These results were validated in an orthotopic H446 mouse model of SCLC. Results H446/EP was resistant to cisplatin, etoposide, paclitexal, epirubicin, irinotecan, and vinorelbine. Exposure of cisplatin at 5 μg/ml for 24 hours increased LC3II/LC3I, ATG5, p62, and the formation of autophagolysosomes in H446 cells, but not in H446/EP cells. The expression of miR-199a-5p was up-regulated in H446/EP compared to H446. MiR-199a-5p directly targeted the p62 gene. The expression of miR-199a-5p and p62 were correlated in SCLC samples. In H446 and H69PR, the OE of miR-199a-5p increased LC3II/LC3I, p62, and the formation of autophagolysosomes, but not ATG5, while the KD of miR-199a-5p decreased p62, but did not affect LC3II/LC3I, ATG5, and the formation of autophagolysosomes. In H446/EP, the OE of miR-199a-5p decreased p62 only. These results were generally consistent to results in the animal tumor samples. Conclusions The regulation of autophagy by the MiR-199a-5p/p62 axis was a potential mechanism of small cell lung cancer cisplatin resistance.