Human leukocyte antigen class I molecules expressed by tumor cells play a central role in the regulation of natural killer (NK) cell-mediated immune responses. The proteasome inhibitor bortezomib has demonstrated significant activity in multiple myeloma (MM). We hypothesized that treatment of MM with bortezomib results in the reduction of cell-surface expression of class I and thereby sensitizes MM to NK cell-mediated lysis. Here we report that bortezomib down-regulates class I in a time- and dose-dependent fashion on all MM cell lines and patient MM cells tested. Downregulation of class I can also be induced in vivo after a single dose of 1.0 mg/m(2) bortezomib. Bortezomib significantly enhances the sensitivity of patient myeloma to allogeneic and autologous NK cell-mediated lysis. Further, the level of decrease in class I expression correlates with increased susceptibility to lysis by NK cells. Clinically relevant bortezomib concentrations do not affect NK-cell function. Our findings have clear therapeutic implications for MM and other NK cell-sensitive malignancies in the context of both allogeneic and autologous adoptively transferred NK cells.