Acetaminophen (APAP) overdose-induced acute liver damage is mostly due to overwhelmingly increased oxidative stress. Nuclear factor-erythroid 2-related factor2 (Nrf2) plays an important role in alleviating APAP hepatic toxicity. Shikonin (SHK) enhances Nrf2 in multiple lines of normal cells. Nevertheless, whether SHK protects against APAP-induced liver toxicity remains undefined. This study found SHK defended APAP-induced liver toxicity, as well as reversed the levels of serum alanine/aspartate aminotransferases (ALT/AST), liver myeloperoxidase (MPO) activity, and reactive oxygen species (ROS), while it enhanced the liver glutathione (GSH) level in APAP-treated mice. SHK rescued the cell viability and GSH depletion, but neutralized oxidative stress in APAP-treated human normal liver L-02 cells. Mechanically, SHK increased Nrf2 expression in the exposure of APAP at the protein level but not at the mRNA level. Inhibition of Nrf2 blocked the SHK effect in APAP-treated hepatocytes. Furthermore, SHK improved Nrf2 stability through stimulating PI3K/Akt pathway, thus inhibiting GSK-3β. In vivo studies confirmed the close correlation of liver protection of SHK against APAP and Akt/GSK-3β/Nrf2 pathway. In conclusion, this study reveals that SHK prevents APAP hepatotoxicity by upregulation of Nrf2 via PI3K/Akt/GSK-3β pathway. Therefore, SHK may be a promising candidate against APAP-induced liver injury.