Acetate is activated to acetyl-CoA by acetyl-CoA synthetase 2 (AceCS2), a mitochondrial enzyme. Here, we report that the activation of acetate by AceCS2 has a specific and unique role in thermogenesis during fasting. In the skeletal muscle of fasted AceCS2-/- mice, ATP levels were reduced by 50% compared to AceCS2+/+ mice. Fasted AceCS2-/- mice were significantly hypothermic and had reduced exercise capacity. Furthermore, when fed a low-carbohydrate diet, 4-week-old weaned AceCS2-/- mice also exhibited hypothermia accompanied by sustained hypoglycemia that led to a 50% mortality. Therefore, AceCS2 plays a significant role in acetate oxidation needed to generate ATP and heat. Furthermore, AceCS2-/- mice exhibited increased oxygen consumption and reduced weight gain on a low-carbohydrate diet. Our findings demonstrate that activation of acetate by AceCS2 plays a pivotal role in thermogenesis, especially under low-glucose or ketogenic conditions, and is crucially required for survival.