NKG2D, a homodimeric lectin-like receptor, is a unique stimulatory molecule that is found on natural killer cells,T cells and activated macrophages. The natural ligands for murine NKG2D are distant major histocompatibility complex homologs, retinoic acid early transcript (Rae1) and H-60 minor histocompatibility antigen. The crystal structure of the extracellular region of murine NKG2D reveals close homology with other C-type lectin receptors such as CD94, Ly49A, rat MBP-A and CD69. However, the precise mode of dimeric assembly varies among these natural killer receptors, as well as their surface topography and electrostatic properties. The NKG2D structure provides the first structural insights into the role and ligand specificity of this stimulatory receptor in the innate and adaptive immune system.