Proliferation of human CD4+ alphabeta T cells expressing a natural killer cell activating receptor (NKAR) has been shown to be enhanced, particularly in response to low doses of antigen, if the target cells present appropriate human class I major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules. Here, we show that NKAR also enhance proliferation and killing of target cells by subsets of CD8+ alphabeta and CD8+ gammadelta T cells, as well as by NK cells. Strikingly, interferon gamma secretion from all of these types of lymphocytes was markedly increased by interaction of the NKAR with their MHC class I ligands, independently of enhancement of proliferation. Thus, the recognition of class I MHC molecules by NKAR on both T cells and NK cells may provide a regulatory mechanism that affects immune responses through the secretion of interferon gamma and possibly other cytokines. It represents a signal for cytokine secretion alternative and/or augmentative to that through the T cell receptor.