Although invariant NKT (iNKT) cells participate in many aspects of immune responses, the molecular mechanisms regulating their development, maturation, and activation are still poorly understood. GATA-3 is a T cell-specific transcription factor that is also expressed in iNKT cells. The critical role of GATA-3 in conventional alphabeta T cells has been well documented, but whether GATA-3 also regulates the development and function of iNKT cells is unknown. In the present study, we report that deficiency of GATA-3 results in cell-intrinsic defects in the thymic development and peripheral maturation of murine iNKT cells. In addition, GATA-3 is also required for survival, activation, and effector functions of this unique population of T cells. Our data also reveal a previously unidentified peripheral maturation step that is GATA-3 dependent.