Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is a human tumor virus which preferentially infects resting human B cells. Upon infection in vitro, EBV activates and immortalizes these cells. The viral latent protein EBV nuclear antigen 2 (EBNA2) is essential for B cell activation and immortalization; it targets and binds the cellular and ubiquitously expressed DNA-binding protein CBF1, thereby transactivating a plethora of viral and cellular genes. In addition, EBNA2 uses its N-terminal dimerization (END) domain to bind early B cell factor 1 (EBF1), a pioneer transcription factor specifying the B cell lineage. We found that EBNA2 exploits EBF1 to support key metabolic processes and to foster cell cycle progression of infected B cells in their first cell cycles upon activation. The α1-helix within the END domain was found to promote EBF1 binding. EBV mutants lacking the α1-helix in EBNA2 can infect and activate B cells efficiently, but activated cells fail to complete the early S phase of their initial cell cycle. Expression of MYC, target genes of MYC and E2F, as well as multiple metabolic processes linked to cell cycle progression are impaired in EBVΔα1-infected B cells. Our findings indicate that EBF1 controls B cell activation via EBNA2 and, thus, has a critical role in regulating the cell cycle of EBV-infected B cells. This is a function of EBF1 going beyond its well-known contribution to B cell lineage specification.