The chromium-release assay developed in 1968 is still the most commonly used method to measure cytotoxicity by T cells and by natural killer cells. Target cells are loaded in vitro with radioactive chromium and lysis is determined by measuring chromium in the supernatant released by dying cells. Since then, alternative methods have been developed using different markers of target cell viability that do not involve radioactivity. Here, we compared and contrasted a bioluminescence (BLI)-based cytotoxicity assay to the standard radioactive chromium-release assay using an identical set of effector cells and tumor target cells. For this, we stably transduced several human and murine tumor cell lines to express luciferase. When co-cultured with cytotoxic effector cells, highly reproducible decreases in BLI were seen in an effector to target cell dose-dependent manner. When compared to results obtained from the chromium release assay, the performance of the BLI-based assay was superior, because of its robustness, increased signal-to-noise ratio, and faster kinetics. The reduced/delayed detection of cytotoxicity by the chromium release method was attributable to the association of chromium with structural components of the cell, which are released quickly by detergent solubilization but not by hypotonic lysis. We conclude that the (BLI)-based measurement of cytotoxicity offers a superior non-radioactive alternative to the chromium-release assay that is more robust and quicker to perform.