The chemokine RANTES is a chemoattractant and activating factor for T lymphocytes. Investigation of the signal transduction mechanisms induced by RANTES in T cells revealed tyrosine phosphorylation of multiple protein species with prominent bands at 70-85 and 120-130 kD. Immunoprecipitation and Western analyses revealed that a protein of 125 kD was identical to the focal adhesion kinase (FAK) pp125FAK. RANTES stimulated phosphorylation of FAK as early as 30 seconds and immunoblots using antiphosphotyrosine monoclonal antibodies revealed that there was consistent phosphorylation of a 68-70 kD species in the pp125FAK immunoprecipitates. Immunoblotting and kinase assays showed this to be two separate proteins, the tyrosine kinase zeta-associated protein (ZAP) 70, and the focal adhesion protein paxillin. These results indicate a potentially important role for RANTES in the generation of T cell focal adhesions and subsequent cell activation via a molecular complex containing FAK, ZAP-70, and paxillin.