NK cells vigorously proliferate during viral infections, resulting in an expanded pool of innate lymphocytes that are able to participate in early host defense. The relative contributions of cytokines and activation receptors in stimulating NK cell proliferation during viral infections are not well characterized. In this study, we demonstrated that signaling through the NK cell activation receptor Ly49H was able to compensate for the absence of cytokine stimulation in the preferential phase of viralinduced proliferation during murine cytomegalovirus infection. In the absence of type I IFN stimulation, NK cell proliferation was strongly biased toward cells expressing the Ly49H receptor, even at early time points when minimal preferential Ly49H-mediated proliferation was observed in wild-type mice. In the absence of effective Ly49H signaling or following infection with virus that did not express the ligand for Ly49H, no difference was observed in the proliferation of subsets of NK cells that either express or lack expression of Ly49H, although the overall proliferation of NK cells in IFNαβR-/- mice was substantially reduced. These results highlight the contribution of NK cell activation receptors in stimulating proliferation and subsequent expansion of NK cells that are able to recognize virally infected cells.