Receptors of the signalling lymphocyte-activation molecules (SLAM) family are involved in the functional regulation of a variety of immune cells upon engagement through homotypic or heterotypic interactions amongst them. Here we show that murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV) dampens the surface expression of several SLAM receptors during the course of the infection of macrophages. By screening a panel of MCMV deletion mutants, we identified m154 as an immunoevasin that effectively reduces the cell-surface expression of the SLAM family member CD48, a high-affinity ligand for natural killer (NK) and cytotoxic T cell receptor CD244. m154 is a mucin-like protein, expressed with early kinetics, which can be found at the cell surface of the infected cell. During infection, m154 leads to proteolytic degradation of CD48. This viral protein interferes with the NK cell cytotoxicity triggered by MCMV-infected macrophages. In addition, we demonstrate that an MCMV mutant virus lacking m154 expression results in an attenuated phenotype in vivo, which can be substantially restored after NK cell depletion in mice. This is the first description of a viral gene capable of downregulating CD48. Our novel findings define m154 as an important player in MCMV innate immune regulation.