The present research was designed to study the effects of an extract from the edible cyanophyta Aphanizomenon flos-aquae on human natural killer (NK) cells. We have previously shown, using a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled crossover design, that ingestion of 1.5 g of dried whole A. flos-aquae resulted in a transient reduction in peripheral blood NK cells in 21 healthy human volunteers, suggesting increased NK cell homing into tissue. We have now identified an extract from A. flos-aquae (AFAe) that directly activates NK cells in vitro and modulates the chemokine receptor profile. NK cell activation was evaluated by expression of CD25 and CD69 on CD3-CD56+ cells after 18 hours. Changes in CXCR3 and CXCR4 chemokine receptor expression after 5-60 minutes were evaluated by immunostaining and flow cytometry. AFAe induced the expression of CD69 on CD3-CD56+ NK cells, induced CD25 expression on 25% of these cells, and acted in synergy with interleukin 2. NK cells enriched by RosetteSep (StemCell Technologies Inc., Vancouver, BC, Canada) were not activated by AFAe, indicating that the NK activation was dependent on other cells such as monocytes. The low-molecular-weight fraction <5,000 of AFAe was responsible for the most robust NK cell activation, suggesting novel compounds different from previously reported macrophage-activating large polysaccharides.