Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are byproducts of aerobic metabolism and contribute to both physiological and pathological conditions as second messengers. ROS are essential for antigen specific activation of T cells, but little is known about what role ROS play in NKT cells. In the current study, we investigated the role of ROS in NKT cell function. We found that ROS levels are similar among CD4, CD8 and NKT cell subsets in the thymus. However, NKT cells, but neither CD4 nor CD8 T cells, showed dramatically increased ROS in the spleen and liver but not in adipose tissues. ROS in the peripheral NKT cells were primarily produced by NADPH oxidases not mitochondria. Accordingly, ROS-high NKT cells were susceptible to oxidative stress and underwent apoptotic cell death. Furthermore, ROS play an important role in regulating the inflammatory function of NKT cells because antioxidant treatment of NKT cells showed reduced frequencies of IFN-γ+ and IL-17+ cells. In line with this, freshly isolated ROS-high NKT cells had more NKT1 and NKT17 cells but less NKT2 than ROS-low cells. These characteristics are regulated by promyelocytic leukemia zinc finger (PLZF) as evidenced by low ROS in NKT cells from PLZF haplodeficient mice and also from adipose tissues that do not express PLZF. Conversely, ROS were highly elevated in CD4 T cells from mice ectopically expressing PLZF. Together, our study revealed for the first time that ROS regulate NKT cell functions through PLZF.