To investigate the role of membrane lymphotoxin (LT)alpha1 / beta2 and its LTbeta receptor (LTbetaR) in the protective immune response to Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) infection, we have used a soluble fusion molecule (LTbetaR-IgG1). LTbetaR-Ig treatment interferes with granuloma formation mainly in the spleen by inhibiting macrophage activation and nitric oxide synthase activity. In addition, a large accumulation of eosinophils was observed in the spleen of LTbetaR-Ig-treated infected mice. Decreased blood levels of IFN-gamma and increased IL-4 were also observed, suggesting that the LTbetaR pathway is important in BCG infection to favor a Th1 type of immune response. The treatment of transgenic mice expressing high blood levels of a soluble TNFR1-IgG3 fusion protein with LTbetaR-Ig resulted in a still higher sensitivity to BCG infection, and extensive necrosis in the spleen. In conclusion, these results suggest that the LTbetaR and the TNFR pathways are not redundant in the course of BCG infection and protective granuloma formation: the LTbetaR pathway appears to be important in spleen granuloma formation, whereas the TNFR pathway has a predominant role in other tissues.