Systemic hyporesponsiveness occurs following oral administration of antigen (oral tolerance) and involves the uptake and processing of antigen by the gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT), which includes Peyer's patches (PP) lamina propria lymphocytes and mesenteric lymph nodes (MLN). Animals with targeted mutations of genes in the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) family have differential defects in the development of peripheral lymphoid organs including PP and MLN, and provide a unique opportunity to investigate the role of GALT structures in the induction of oral tolerance. Oral tolerance could not be induced in TNF/lymphotoxin (LT) alpha-/- mice, which are devoid of both PP and MLN, although these animals could be tolerized by intraperitoneal administration of antigen, demonstrating the requirement for GALT for oral tolerance induction. LTbeta-/- mice and LTalpha/LTbeta+/- animals do not have PP but could be orally tolerized, as measured by IFN-gamma production and delayed-type hypersensitivity responses by administration of both low or high doses of ovalbumin. To further investigate the requirement for PP, we tested the progeny of LTbeta-receptor-IgG-fusion-protein (LTbetaRigG)-treated mice, which do not form PP but have an otherwise intact immune system. Although these animals had decreased fecal IgA production, they could be orally tolerized. Our results demonstrate that PP are not an absolute requirement for the induction of either high- or low-dose oral tolerance, although oral tolerance could not be induced in animals devoid of both PP and MLN.