Natural killer T (NKT) cells are a subset of T cells that recognize glycolipid antigens presented by the CD1d protein. The initial discovery of immunostimulatory glycolipids from a marine sponge and the T cells that respond to the compounds has led to extensive research by chemists and immunologists to understand how glycolipids are recognized, possible responses by NKT cells, and the structural features of glycolipids necessary for stimulatory activity. The presence of this cell type in humans and most mammals suggests that it plays critical roles in antigen recognition and the interface between innate and adaptive immunity. Both endogenous and exogenous natural antigens for NKT cells have been identified, and it is likely that glycolipid antigens remain to be discovered. Multiple series of structurally varied glycolipids have been synthesized and tested for stimulatory activity. The structural features of glycolipids necessary for NKT cell stimulation are moderately well understood, and designed compounds have proven to be much more potent antigens than their natural counterparts. Nevertheless, control over NKT cell responses by designed glycolipids has not been optimized, and further research will be required to fully reveal the therapeutic potential of this cell type.