Natural killer (NK) cells and CD8 T cells require adhesion molecules for migration, activation, expansion, differentiation, and effector functions. DNAX accessory molecule 1 (DNAM-1), an adhesion molecule belonging to the immunoglobulin superfamily, promotes many of these functions in vitro. However, because NK cells and CD8 T cells express multiple adhesion molecules, it is unclear whether DNAM-1 has a unique function or is effectively redundant in vivo. To address this question, we generated mice lacking DNAM-1 and evaluated DNAM-1-deficient CD8 T cell and NK cell function in vitro and in vivo. Our results demonstrate that CD8 T cells require DNAM-1 for co-stimulation when recognizing antigen presented by nonprofessional antigen-presenting cells; in contrast, DNAM-1 is dispensable when dendritic cells present the antigen. Similarly, NK cells require DNAM-1 for the elimination of tumor cells that are comparatively resistant to NK cell-mediated cytotoxicity caused by the paucity of other NK cell-activating ligands. We conclude that DNAM-1 serves to extend the range of target cells that can activate CD8 T cell and NK cells and, hence, may be essential for immunosurveillance against tumors and/or viruses that evade recognition by other activating or accessory molecules.