Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) remains a major cause of viral disease in immunosuppressed transplant patients. The ability of HCMV to establish lifelong infection in humans and reactivate with devastating clinical consequences underscores the importance of understanding the triggers of HCMV reactivation in mature myeloid cells. Dendritic cell (DC) differentiation is concomitant with the activation of cellular signaling pathways and inflammatory gene expression and also HCMV reactivation. Here, we show a major role for interleukin-6 (IL-6) through extracellular signal-regulated kinase-mitogen-activated protein kinase (ERK-MAPK) signaling upon DC differentiation to promote HCMV reactivation. IL-6 drives reactivation by transcriptional upregulation of the major immediate-early (IE) genes, resulting in efficient progression of the virus life cycle and, ultimately, higher titers of infectious virus. Furthermore, the interception of IL-6 signaling with biological inhibitors significantly abrogated HCMV reactivation from experimental latency. Crucially, using cells derived from healthy seropositive donors, we observed a key role for IL-6 during reactivation from natural latency ex vivo in interstitial DCs. Clinically, HCMV reactivation occurs in highly inflammatory environments (i.e., transplantation); thus, the implications of this study could potentially provide novel approaches for therapeutic intervention.