Little is known concerning the stimulatory receptors responsible for tumor cell lysis by NK cells. We generated a monoclonal antibody specific for murine NKG2D in order to investigate its function. Blocking of NKG2D inhibited natural cytotoxicity of all tumor cells tested that express ligands for the receptor. Staining analysis showed that NKG2D is also expressed by activated CD8(+) T cells and macrophages, and subsets of TCRgammadelta(+) and NK1.1(+) T cells. Contradicting reports that NKG2D is solely a costimulatory receptor, we observed that cross-linking of NKG2D directly stimulates NK cells and activated macrophages. In contrast, NKG2D costimulates activated CD8(+) T cells. Thus, NKG2D engagement directly stimulates NK cells and macrophages, costimulates CD8(+) T cells, and plays a substantial role in natural killing.