Targeted therapies with MAPK inhibitors (MAPKi) are faced with severe problems of resistance in BRAF-mutant melanoma. In parallel to the acquisition of genetic mutations, melanoma cells may also adapt to the drugs through phenotype switching. The ZEB1 transcription factor, a known inducer of EMT and invasiveness, is now considered as a genuine oncogenic factor required for tumor initiation, cancer cell plasticity, and drug resistance in carcinomas. Here, we show that high levels of ZEB1 expression are associated with inherent resistance to MAPKi in BRAF-mutated cell lines and tumors. ZEB1 levels are also elevated in melanoma cells with acquired resistance and in biopsies from patients relapsing while under treatment. ZEB1 overexpression is sufficient to drive the emergence of resistance to MAPKi by promoting a reversible transition toward a MITF/p75 stem-like and tumorigenic phenotype. ZEB1 inhibition promotes cell differentiation, prevents tumorigenic growth in vivo, sensitizes naive melanoma cells to MAPKi, and induces cell death in resistant cells. Overall, our results demonstrate that ZEB1 is a major driver of melanoma cell plasticity, driving drug adaptation and phenotypic resistance to MAPKi.