RIG-I-like receptors (RLRs) sense virus-derived RNA or polyinosinic-polycytidylic acid (poly IC) to exert antiviral immune responses. Here, we examine the mechanisms underlying the adjuvant effects of poly IC. Poly IC was taken up by dendritic cells (DCs), and it induced lysosomal destabilization, which, in turn, activated an RLR-dependent signaling pathway. Upon poly IC stimulation, cathepsin D was released into the cytoplasm from the lysosome to interact with IPS-1, an adaptor molecule for RLRs. This interaction facilitated cathepsin D cleavage of caspase 8 and the activation of the transcription factor NF-κB, resulting in enhanced cytokine production. Further recruitment of the kinase RIP-1 to this complex initiated the necroptosis of a small number of DCs. HMGB1 released by dying cells enhanced IFN-β production in concert with poly IC. Collectively, these findings suggest that cathepsin D-triggered, IPS-1-dependent necroptosis is a mechanism that propagates the adjuvant efficacy of poly IC.