NF-kappaB essential modulator (NEMO), the regulatory subunit of the IkappaB kinase, is essential for NF-kappaB activation. Mutations disrupting the X-linked NEMO gene cause incontinentia pigmenti (IP), a human genetic disease characterized by male embryonic lethality and by a complex pathology affecting primarily the skin in heterozygous females. The cellular and molecular mechanisms leading to skin lesion pathogenesis in IP patients remain elusive. Here we used epidermis-specific deletion of NEMO in mice to investigate the mechanisms causing the skin pathology in IP. NEMO deletion completely inhibited NF-kappaB activation and sensitized keratinocytes to tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-induced death but did not affect epidermal development. Keratinocyte-restricted NEMO deletion, either constitutive or induced in adult skin, caused inflammatory skin lesions, identifying the NEMO-deficient keratinocyte as the initiating cell type that triggers the skin pathology in IP. Furthermore, genetic ablation of tumor necrosis factor receptor 1 (TNFRI) rescued the skin phenotype demonstrating that TNF signaling is essential for skin lesion pathogenesis in IP. These results identify the NEMO-deficient keratinocyte as a potent initiator of skin inflammation and provide novel insights into the mechanism leading to the pathogenesis of IP.