Natural killer (NK) cells are potent innate cytotoxic lymphocytes for the destruction of infected and transformed cells. Although they were originally considered to be ready-made assassins after their hematopoietic development, it has recently become clear that their activity is regulated by mechanisms such as repertoire composition, licensing, priming, and adaptive memory-like differentiation. Some of these mechanisms are influenced by infectious disease agents, including herpesviruses. In this review, we will compare expansion, stimulation, and effector functions of NK cell populations after infections with β- and γ 1-herpesviruses because, though closely related, these pathogens seem to drive completely opposite NK cell responses. The discussed findings suggest that different NK cell subsets expand and perform protective functions during infectious diseases and might be used diagnostically to predict resistance to the causative pathogens as well as treat them by adoptive transfer of the respective populations.