The formation of lymph nodes (LN) and Peyer's patches (PP) can be distinguished by the requirement of RANK for LN but not IL-7R(alpha), which is essential for PP development. However, lymphotoxin-alphabeta (LT(alpha)beta) signaling is required for both organs. The cellular basis underlying this dichotomy was revealed by the finding that the fetal IL-7R(alpha)(+) population responded equally well to IL-7 and RANKL to express LT(alpha)beta. IL-7R(alpha)(+) cells harvested from TRAF6(-/-) embryos expressed LTalphabeta in response to IL-7 but not RANKL, demonstrating that the RANK-TRAF6 signaling pathway regulates LT(alpha)beta expression in LN but not in PP. Soluble IL-7 administered to TRAF6(-/-) embryos was sufficient to restore LN genesis indicating the functional similarities of the IL-7R(alpha)(+) inducer cells for LN and PP genesis.