Control of the protozoan parasite Leishmania major is dependent on establishing a robust T cell response. An early event in the development of an effective T cell response is the expansion (or hypertrophy) of the lymph node draining the site of infection, although the mechanisms involved in this response are not completely understood. In this study, we show that lymph node hypertrophy following L. major infection in mice is associated with increased recruitment of lymphocytes to the lymph node from the blood, and that CD62L-deficient mice, which are unable to recruit cells to the lymph node, develop a chronic infection with L. major. Injection of L. major-activated dendritic cells promoted lymph node hypertrophy, and this correlated with an increase in the expression of CCR7 on dendritic cells, although the upregulation of CCR7 occurred on the bystander (uninfected) dendritic cells rather than those containing parasites. We found that increased CCR7 expression was TLR9-dependent, that TLR9−/− dendritic cells migrated less efficiently to the draining lymph node, and that TLR9−/− mice exhibited a deficit in lymph node expansion following L. major infection, as well as increased susceptibility. Taken together, to our knowledge, these results are the first to demonstrate that activation of dendritic cells via TLR9 is essential for the induction of lymph node hypertrophy in leishmaniasis.