Tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-related cytokines regulate cell death and survival and provide strong selective pressures for viruses, such as cytomegalovirus (CMV), to evolve counterstrategies in order to persist in immune-competent hosts. Signaling by the lymphotoxin (LT)-β receptor or TNF receptor-1, but not Fas or TRAIL receptors, inhibits the cytopathicity and replication of human CMV by a nonapoptotic, reversible process that requires nuclear factor κB (NF-κB)-dependent induction of interferon-β (IFN-β). Efficient induction of IFN-β requires virus infection and LT signaling, demonstrating the need for both host and viral factors in the curtailment of viral replication without cellular elimination. LTα-deficient mice and LTβR-Fc transgenic mice were profoundly susceptible to murine CMV infection. Together, these results reveal an essential and conserved role for LTs in establishing host defense to CMV.