We have investigated whether rat Ly49 receptors can monitor Listeria-infected intestinal epithelial cells through altered expression of MHC class I molecules. The rat colon carcinoma epithelial cell line CC531 infected with Listeria expressed higher levels of both classical and nonclassical MHC-I molecules. Reporter cells expressing the activating Ly49s5 receptor displayed increased stimulatory responses when incubated with Listeria-infected CC531 cells in vitro, which could be blocked with mAb 8G10 specific for nonclassical MHC-I molecules of the RT1u haplotype, but not with mAb OX18 reacting with classical MHC-I molecules in this haplotype. Similar responses were observed against IFN-γ-treated cells that also upregulated their expression of MHC-I molecules. Thus, the Ly49s5 receptor can respond to increased levels of nonclassical MHC-I molecules induced on target cells by either bacterial infection or cytokine stimulation. We furthermore found that splenic NK and NKT cells produced IFN-γ in response to Listeria-infected CC531 cells, and that this was not limited to Ly49-expressing cells, since similar levels of IFN-γ production were observed in Ly49+ and Ly49− NK cell subsets. Therefore, NK cells may recognize Listeria-infected cells through both MHC-I-dependent and -independent innate immune receptor systems.