Many modern vaccines use defined adjuvants to stimulate the innate immune system and shape the adaptive immune response. The exact nature of these innate signals and whether immune differentiation can originate within the periphery is not known. Here we used an ovine lymphatic cannulation model to characterise the cellular and transcriptomic profile of the afferent lymph following injection of a liposomal vaccine formulation incorporating diphtheria toxoid and the innate stimulator poly(I:C) over a 78-h period. The response to this vaccine featured an early activation of broad pro-inflammatory pathways (e.g. TLR signalling and inflammasome pathways) and the transient recruitment of granulocytes into the lymph. At 24 h a more monocytic cellular profile arose coinciding with a transition to a specific antiviral response characterised by the up-regulation of genes associated with the receptors typical for the viral mimic, poly(I:C) (e.g. TLR3, RIG-I and MDA5). At the latest time points the up-regulation of IL-17A and IL-17F suggested that Th17 cells may participate in the earliest adaptive response to this vaccine. These data provide the most comprehensive picture of the cellular and molecular mechanisms that link the periphery to the draining lymph node following vaccination, and indicate that the immune response is capable of specialising within the periphery.