Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) is a rare inflammatory disorder with a poor prognosis for affected individuals. To find a means of suppressing the clinical phenotype, we investigated the cellular and molecular mechanisms leading to HLH in Unc13d(jinx/jinx) mice, in which cytolytic function of NK and CD8(+) T cells is impaired. Unc13d(jinx/jinx) mutants infected with lymphochoriomeningitis virus (LCMV) present typical clinical features of HLH, including splenomegaly, elevated serum IFNγ, and anemia. Proteins mediating cell-cell contact, cytokine signaling or Toll-like receptor (TLR) signaling were analyzed. We show that neither the integrin CD18, which is involved in adhesion between antigen-presenting cells and effector T cells, nor tumor necrosis factor (TNF) made nonredundant contributions to the disease phenotype. Disruption of IFNγ signaling reduced immune cell activation in Unc13d(jinx/jinx) mice, but also resulted in uncontrolled viral proliferation and exaggerated release of inflammatory cytokines. Abrogating the function of myeloid differentiation primary response gene 88 (MyD88) in Unc13d(jinx/jinx) mice suppressed immune cell activation and controlled cytokine production in an IL-1 receptor 1 (IL-1R1)-independent way. Our findings implicate MyD88 as the key initiator of myeloid and lymphoid proliferation in HLH, and suggest that blockade of this signaling molecule may reduce immunopathology in patients.