Detailed understanding of the signaling intermediates that confer the sensing of intracellular viral nucleic acids for induction of type I interferons is critical for strategies to curtail viral mechanisms that impede innate immune defenses. Here we show that the activation of the microtubule-associated guanine nucleotide exchange factor GEF-H1, encoded by Arhgef2, is essential for sensing of foreign RNA by RIG-I-like receptors. Activation of GEF-H1 controls RIG-I-dependent and Mda5-dependent phosphorylation of IRF3 and induction of IFN-β expression in macrophages. Generation of Arhgef2(-/-) mice revealed a pronounced signaling defect that prevented antiviral host responses to encephalomyocarditis virus and influenza A virus. Microtubule networks sequester GEF-H1 that upon activation is released to enable antiviral signaling by intracellular nucleic acid detection pathways.