The lymphoid organs contain specialized microanatomic structures composed of lymphoid, myeloid and stromal cells that are vital to the generation of an effective adaptive immune response. Although the existence of these specialized structures has been known for over a century, the developmental signals that generate them and the specific roles of these structures in the immune response have remained largely elusive. Because of their position adjacent to the marginal sinuses, marginal zone B (MZB) cells are amongst the first population of cells seen by blood born antigens and are presumed to have a critical role in host defense against bacterial pathogens. Here we demonstrate that a deficiency of the tyrosine kinase (Pyk-2) results in a cell autonomous defect of MZB cell production. In response to repetitive polysaccharide antigens (T-independent type II (TI-II)) Pyk-2-deficient mice displayed marked suppression of IgM, IgG3 and IgG2a production. Furthermore, complement receptor engagement proved necessary for the specific targeting of polysaccharide antigens to MZB cells. These results suggest how innate immune responses mediated through complement coupling are translated into an adaptive response by MZB cells, and provide a potential mechanism for the T cell independence of humoral responses to polysaccharide antigens.