The hexamethylene bisacetamide (HMBA) anticancer drug was dismissed due to limited efficacy in leukemic patients but it may re-enter into the clinics in HIV-1 eradication strategies because of its recently disclosed capacity to reactivate latent virus. Here, we investigated the impact of HMBA on the cytotoxicity of natural killer (NK) cells against acute T lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) cells or HIV-1-infected T cells that exit from latency. We show that in T-ALL cells HMBA upmodulated MICB and ULBP2 ligands for the NKG2D activating receptor. In a primary CD4+ T cell-based latency model, HMBA did not reactivate HIV-1, yet enhanced ULBP2 expression on cells harboring virus reactivated by prostratin (PRO). However, HMBA reduced the expression of NKG2D and its DAP10 adaptor in NK cells, hence impairing NKG2D-mediated cytotoxicity and DAP10-dependent response to IL-15 stimulation. Alongside, HMBA dampened killing of T-ALL targets by IL-15-activated NK cells and impaired NK cell-mediated clearance of PRO-reactivated HIV-1+ cells. Overall, our results demonstrate a dominant detrimental effect of HMBA on the NKG2D pathway that crucially controls NK cell-mediated killing of tumors and virus-infected cells, providing one possible explanation for poor clinical outcome in HMBA-treated cancer patients and raising concerns for future therapeutic application of this drug.