A role for the activating NK-receptor NKG2D has been indicated in several autoimmune diseases in humans and in animal models of type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis, and treatment with monoclonal antibodies to NKG2D attenuated disease severity in these models. In an adoptive transfer-induced model of colitis, we found a significantly higher frequency of CD4(+)NKG2D(+) cells in blood, mesenteric lymph nodes, colon, and spleen from colitic mice compared to BALB/c donor-mice. We, therefore, wanted to study the effect of anti-NKG2D antibody (CX5) treatment initiated either before onset of colitis, when the colitis was mild, or when severe colitis was established. CX5 treatment decreased the detectable levels of cell-surface NKG2D and prophylactic administration of CX5 attenuated the development of colitis significantly, whereas a more moderate reduction in the severity of disease was observed after CX5 administration to mildly colitic animals. CX5 did not attenuate severe colitis. We conclude that the frequency of CD4(+)NKG2D(+) cells increase during development of experimental colitis. NKG2D may play a role in the early stages of colitis in this model, since early administration of CX5 attenuated disease severity.