The generation of lymphoid microenvironments in early life depends on the interaction of lymphoid tissue-inducer cells with stromal lymphoid tissue-organizer cells. Whether this cellular interface stays operational in adult secondary lymphoid organs has remained elusive. We show here that during acute infection with lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus, antiviral cytotoxic T cells destroyed infected T cell zone stromal cells, which led to profound disruption of secondary lymphoid organ integrity. Furthermore, the ability of the host to respond to secondary antigens was lost. Restoration of the lymphoid microanatomy was dependent on the proliferative accumulation of lymphoid tissue-inducer cells in secondary lymphoid organs during the acute phase of infection and lymphotoxin alpha(1)beta(2) signaling. Thus, crosstalk between lymphoid tissue-inducer cells and stromal cells is reactivated in adults to maintain secondary lymphoid organ integrity and thereby contributes to the preservation of immunocompetence.