Abstract NK cells are crucial components of the innate immune system, providing a first line of defense against infectious pathogens and tumors. IL-15 is the major physiologic growth factor responsible for NK cell differentiation, survival and cytolytic activity of mature NK cells. However, the exact regulatory mechanism of IL-15 on NK cell function is still unclear. In this study, we try to investigate the mechanism of IL-15 on NK cytolysis. Our results demonstrate that IL-15 treatment increased NKG2D transcripts and surface expression in NK cells. NKG2D or MICA blockade attenuated the up-regulation of IL-15 on NK cytolysis, demonstrating that the up-regulatory effect of IL-15 on NK cytolysis is at least partly dependent of the interaction of NKG2D and MICA. Furtherfore, IL-15 augmented the expression of cytotoxic effector molecules (TRAIL and Perforin) and the phosphorylation of STAT1 and ERK1/2, which may also contribute the NK lysis. These results may have therapeutic implications when designing cytokine immunotherapy against cancer.