Innate and adaptive immunity have not evolved separately. In this regard, the NKG2D molecule first identified on NK cells and classified as an activating NK cell receptor is also an important receptor for CD8+ T cells. Functional analyses of human NKG2D and its ligands, i.e. UL16 binding proteins (ULBP) and MHC class I chain-related (MIC), have so far focused on immune cell-target cell situations because of the expression of NKG2D ligands on infected, stressed or transformed cells. Here, however, we address a possible function of NKG2D/ULBP-1 during the initiation of T cell responses. ULBP-1 can be detected on mature dendritic cells both in situ in the T cell areas of lymph nodes as well as in vitro after artificial maturation. FCM analysis further demonstrated that although NKG2D is expressed to some degree on all analyzed T cell subsets from peripheral blood, in vitro stimulation of T cells results in up-regulation of NKG2D on proliferating T cells. Using the sentinel lymph nodes of primary melanoma as a model for induction of defined T cell responses in vivo, we were able to demonstrate the expression of NKG2D on melanoma-associated antigen-specific T cells. Thus, our results suggest a role for NGK2D-ULBP-1 in the induction or reactivation of T cell responses.