Pre-T-cell receptor (TCR) signal transduction is required for developing thymocytes to differentiate from CD4-CD8- double-negative (DN) cell to CD4+CD8+ double-positive (DP) cell. Notch signalling is required for T-cell fate specification and must be maintained throughout β-selection, but inappropriate Notch activation in DN4 and DP cells is oncogenic. Here, we show that pre-TCR signalling leads to increased expression of the transcriptional repressor Bcl6 and that Bcl6 is required for differentiation to DP. Conditional deletion of Bcl6 from thymocytes reduced pre-TCR-induced differentiation to DP cells, disrupted expansion and enrichment of intracellular TCRβ+ cells within the DN population and increased DN4 cell death. Deletion also increased Notch1 activation and Notch-mediated transcription in the DP population. Thus, Bcl6 is required in thymocyte development for efficient differentiation from DN3 to DP and to attenuate Notch1 activation in DP cells. Given the importance of inappropriate NOTCH1 signalling in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (T-ALL), and the involvement of BCL6 in other types of leukaemia, this study is important to our understanding of T-ALL.