Previous studies revealed that Kanglaite (KLT) exhibits antitumor and immunomodulatory activities. In the present study, we show that KLT treatment stimulated the immune response by increasing the number of T cells and natural killer (NK) cells in the blood of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients. Experiments in tumor-bearing mice were further designed in order to explore the effects of KLT on the immune system and the underlying molecular mechanisms. The results showed that KLT improves the tumor cell transplantation-induced reduction in the serum level of the cytokines IFN‑γ and IL‑2, and rescues the levels of CD4+ T cells in host mice. These events enhanced the cytotoxic activities of natural killer and CD8+ T cells against the hepatic HepG2 cancer cells. KLT administration further increased the mRNA level of certain nuclear factor κB (NF‑κB)‑responsive genes in CD4+ cells. The chromatin immunoprecipitation assay showed that KLT increases the association of the NF-κB p65 subunit to the promoter regions of interleukin (IL)-2- and B-cell lymphoma (Bcl)-2-encoding genes in CD4+ T cells. Our study demonstrated that KLT is the main active ingredient of coix seed exhibiting anticancer and immunomodulatory properties. Induction of NF-κB‑mediated gene transcription in CD4+ T cells is involved in the immunomodulatory activity of KLT.