Interleukin-15 (IL-15) in vitro treatment of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected individuals specifically enhances the function and survival of HIV-specific CD8+ T cells, while in vivo IL-15 treatment of mice preferentially expands memory CD8+ T cells. In this study, we investigated the in vivo effect of IL-15 treatment in 9 SIVmac251-infected cynomolgus macaques (low dose of IL-15, 10 microg/kg of body weight, n = 3; high dose of IL-15, 100 microg/kg, n = 3; control [saline], n = 3; dose administered twice weekly for 4 weeks). IL-15 treatment induced a nearly threefold increase in peripheral blood CD8+CD3- NK cells. Furthermore, CD8+ T-cell numbers increased more than twofold, mainly due to an increase in the CD45RA-CD62L- and CD45RA+CD62L- effector memory CD8+ T cells. Expression of Ki-67 in the CD8+ T cells indicated expansion of CD8+ T cells and not redistribution. IL-15 did not affect CD4+ T-cell, B-cell, and CD14+ macrophage numbers. No statistically significant differences in changes from baseline in the viral load were observed when control-, low-dose-, and high-dose-treated animals were compared. No clinical adverse effects were observed in any of the animals studied. The selective expansion of effector memory CD8+ T cells and NK cells by IL-15 further supports IL-15's possible therapeutic use in viral infections such as HIV infection.