The design of effective antiviral immunotherapies depends on a detailed understanding of the cellular and molecular processes involved in generating and maintaining immune responses. Control of cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection requires the concerted activities of both innate and adaptive immune effectors. In the mouse, immunity to acute murine CMV (MCMV) infection depends on natural killer (NK) cells and/or CD8+ T cells. The relative importance of NK and CD8+ T cells varies in different mouse strains. In C57BL/6 mice, early viral infection is controlled by Ly49H+ NK cells, whereas in BALB/c mice, CD8+ T cells exert the principal antiviral activities. Although the role of NK and CD8+ T cells is defined, the molecular mechanisms they utilize to limit acute infection are poorly understood. Here, we define the specific roles of perforin (pfp) and interferon-γ (IFN-γ) in the context of NK- or T-cell-mediated immunity to MCMV during acute infection. We show that pfp is essential for both NK- and T-cell-mediated antiviral immunity during the early stages of infection. The relative importance of IFN-γ is more pronounced in Ly49H-- mice. Using BALB/c background mice congenic for Ly49H and lacking pfp, we show that Ly49H-regulated NK-cell control of MCMV infection is dependent on pfp-mediated cytolysis.