We present the results of the three-month above-ground commissioning run of the Large Underground Xenon (LUX) experiment at the Sanford Underground Research Facility located in Lead, South Dakota, USA. LUX is a 370 kg liquid xenon detector that will search for cold dark matter in the form of Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs). The commissioning run, conducted with the detector immersed in a water tank, validated the integration of the various sub-systems in preparation for the underground deployment. Using the data collected, we report excellent light collection properties, achieving 8.4 photoelectrons per keV for 662 keV electron recoils without an applied electric field, measured in the center of the WIMP target. We also find good energy and position resolution in relatively high-energy interactions from a variety of internal and external sources. Finally, we have used the commissioning data to tune the optical properties of our simulation and report updated sensitivity projections for spin-independent WIMP-nucleon scattering. © 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.