Tumor-specific CD8+ T cells play a pivotal role in anti-tumor immunity and are a key target of immunotherapeutic approaches. Intratumoral CD8+ T cells are heterogeneous; Tcf1+ stem-like CD8+ T cells give rise to their cytotoxic progeny – Tim-3+ terminally differentiated CD8+ T cells. However, where and how this differentiation process occurs has not been elucidated. We herein show that terminally differentiated CD8+ T cells can be generated within tumor-draining lymph nodes (TDLNs) and that CD69 expression on tumor-specific CD8+ T cells controls its differentiation process through regulating the expression of the transcription factor TOX. In TDLNs, CD69 deficiency diminished TOX expression in tumor-specific CD8+ T cells, and consequently promoted generation of functional terminally differentiated CD8+ T cells. Anti-CD69 administration promoted the generation of terminally differentiated CD8+ T cells, and the combined use of anti-CD69 and anti-PD-1 showed an efficient anti-tumor effect. Thus, CD69 is an attractive target for cancer immunotherapy that synergizes with immune checkpoint blockade.