The metabolic principles underlying the differences between follicular and marginal zone B cells (FoB and MZB, respectively) are not well understood. Here we show, by studying mice with B cell-specific ablation of the catalytic subunit of glutamate cysteine ligase (Gclc), that glutathione synthesis affects homeostasis and differentiation of MZB to a larger extent than FoB, while glutathione-dependent redox control contributes to the metabolic dependencies of FoB. Specifically, Gclc ablation in FoB induces metabolic features of wild-type MZB such as increased ATP levels, glucose metabolism, mTOR activation, and protein synthesis. Furthermore, Gclc-deficient FoB have a block in the mitochondrial electron transport chain (ETC) due to diminished complex I and II activity and thereby accumulate the tricarboxylic acid cycle metabolite succinate. Finally, Gclc deficiency hampers FoB activation and antibody responses in vitro and in vivo, and induces susceptibility to viral infections. Our results thus suggest that Gclc is required to ensure the development of MZB, the mitochondrial ETC integrity in FoB, and the efficacy of antiviral humoral immunity.