The interaction of NKG2D, a stimulatory receptor expressed on natural killer (NK) cells and activated CD8(+) T cells, and its ligands mediates stimulatory and costimulatory signals to these cells. Here, we demonstrate that DNA-based vaccines, encoding syngeneic or allogeneic NKG2D ligands together with tumor antigens such as survivin or carcinoembryonic antigen, markedly activate both innate and adaptive antitumor immunity. Such vaccines result in highly effective, NK- and CD8(+) T cell-mediated protection against either breast or colon carcinoma cells in prophylactic and therapeutic settings. Notably, this protection was irrespective of the NKG2D ligand expression level of the tumor cells. Hence, this strategy has the potential to lead to widely applicable and possibly clinically useful DNA-based cancer vaccines.