Lymphotoxin beta receptor (LTbetaR)-/- mice were created by gene targeting. LTbetaR-/- mice lacked Peyer's patches, colon-associated lymphoid tissues, and all lymph nodes. Mucosa patrolling alphaEbeta7high integrin+ T cells were virtually absent. Spleens lost marginal zones; T/B cell segregation and follicular dendritic cell networks were absent. Peanut agglutinin+ cells were aberrantly detectable around central arterioles. In contrast to TNF receptor p55-/- mice, antibody affinity maturation was impaired. Since LTbetaR-/- mice exhibit distinct defects when compared to LTalpha-/- and LTbeta-/- mice, it is suggested that the LTbetaR integrates signals from other TNF family members. Thus, the LTbetaR proves pivotal for the ontogeny of the secondary lymphoid tissues. Furthermore, affinity maturation is dependent on LTalpha1beta2 rather than on LTalpha3.