Infection of chickens with low pathogenicity avian influenza (LPAI) virus results in mild clinical signs while infection with highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) viruses causes death of the birds within 36-48 hours. Since natural killer (NK) cells have been shown to play an important role in influenza-specific immunity, we hypothesise that NK cells are involved in this difference in pathogenicity. To investigate this, the role of chicken NK-cells in LPAI virus infection was studied. Next activation of lung NK cells upon HPAI virus infection was analysed. Infection with a H9N2 LPAI virus resulted in the presence of viral RNA in the lungs which coincided with enhanced activation of lung NK cells. The presence of H5N1 viruses, measured by detection of viral RNA, did not induce activation of lung NK cells. This suggests that decreased NK-cell activation may be one of the mechanisms associated with the enhanced pathogenicity of H5N1 viruses.