Nemo-like kinase (NLK), an evolutionarily conserved serine/threonine kinase, has been recognized as a critical regulator of various cancers. In this study, we investigated the role of NLK in human small-cell lung cancer (SCLC), which is the most aggressive form of lung cancer. NLK expression was evaluated by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction in 20 paired fresh SCLC tissue samples and found to be noticeably elevated in tumor tissues. Lentivirus-mediated RNAi efficiently suppressed NLK expression in NCI-H446 cells, resulting in a significant reduction in cell viability and proliferation in vitro. Moreover, knockdown of NLK led to cell cycle arrest at the S-phase via suppression of Cyclin A, CDK2, and CDC25A, which could contribute to cell growth inhibition. Furthermore, knockdown of NLK decreased the migration of NCI-H446 cells and downregulated matrix metalloproteinase 9. Treatment with NLK short hairpin RNA significantly reduced SCLC tumor growth in vivo. In conclusion, this study suggests that NLK plays an important role in the growth and metastasis of SCLC and may serve as a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of SCLC.