This study examined the role of the immunosuppressive enzyme indoleamine-2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) in ovarian cancer progression, and the possible application of this enzyme as a target for ovarian cancer therapy. We transfected a short hairpin RNA vector targeting IDO into the human ovarian cancer cell line SKOV-3, that constitutively expresses IDO and established an IDO downregulated cell line (SKOV-3/shIDO) to determine whether inhibition of IDO mediates the progression of ovarian cancer. IDO downregulation suppressed tumor growth and peritoneal dissemination in vivo, without influencing cancer cell growth. Moreover, IDO downregulation enhanced the sensitivity of cancer cells to natural killer (NK) cells in vitro, and promoted NK cell accumulation in the tumor stroma in vivo. These findings indicate that downregulation of IDO controls ovarian cancer progression by activating NK cells, suggesting IDO targeting as a potential therapy for ovarian cancer.