Lethal-7 (let-7) microRNAs (miRNAs) are the most abundant miRNAs in the genome, but their role in developing thymocytes is unclear. We found that let-7 miRNAs targeted Zbtb16 mRNA, which encodes the lineage-specific transcription factor PLZF, to post-transcriptionally regulate PLZF expression and thereby the effector functions of natural killer T cells (NKT cells). Dynamic upregulation of let-7 miRNAs during the development of NKT thymocytes downregulated PLZF expression and directed their terminal differentiation into interferon-γ (IFN-γ)-producing NKT1 cells. Without upregulation of let-7 miRNAs, NKT thymocytes maintained high PLZF expression and terminally differentiated into interleukin 4 (IL-4)-producing NKT2 cells or IL-17-producing NKT17 cells. Upregulation of let-7 miRNAs in developing NKT thymocytes was signaled by IL-15, vitamin D and retinoic acid. Such targeting of a lineage-specific transcription factor by miRNA represents a previously unknown level of developmental regulation in the thymus.