Signal transduction pathways regulating NF-kappaB activation essential for microenvironment formation in secondary lymphoid organs remain to be determined. We investigated the effect of a deficiency of TNFR-associated factor 6 (TRAF6), which activates the classical NF-kappaB pathway, in splenic microenvironment formation. Two-week-old TRAF6-deficient mice showed severe defects in B cell follicle and marginal zone formation, similar to mutant mice defective in lymphotoxin (Lt) beta receptor (LtbetaR) signal induction of nonclassical NF-kappaB activation. However, analysis revealed a TRAF6 role in architecture formation distinct from its role in the early neonatal Lt signaling pathway. LtbetaR signal was essential for primary B cell cluster formation with initial differentiation of follicular dendritic cells (FDCs) in neonatal mice. In contrast, TRAF6 was dispensable for progression to this stage but was required for converting B cell clusters to B cell follicles and maintaining FDCs through to later stages. Fetal liver transfer experiments suggested that TRAF6 in radiation-resistant cells is responsible for follicle formation. Despite FDC-specific surface marker expression, FDCs in neonatal TRAF6-deficient mice had lost the capability to express CXCL13. These data suggest that developmentally regulated activation of TRAF6 in FDCs is required for inducing CXCL13 expression to maintain B cell follicles.