Toll-like receptor 5 (TLR5) binding to bacterial flagellin activates signaling through the transcription factor NF-κB and triggers an innate immune response to the invading pathogen. To elucidate the structural basis and mechanistic implications of TLR5-flagellin recognition, we determined the crystal structure of zebrafish TLR5 (as a variable lymphocyte receptor hybrid protein) in complex with the D1/D2/D3 fragment of Salmonella flagellin, FliC, at 2.47 angstrom resolution. TLR5 interacts primarily with the three helices of the FliC D1 domain using its lateral side. Two TLR5-FliC 1:1 heterodimers assemble into a 2:2 tail-to-tail signaling complex that is stabilized by quaternary contacts of the FliC D1 domain with the convex surface of the opposing TLR5. The proposed signaling mechanism is supported by structure-guided mutagenesis and deletion analyses on CBLB502, a therapeutic protein derived from FliC.