Integrin receptor binding to extracellular matrix proteins generates intracellular signals via enhanced tyrosine phosphorylation events that are important for cell growth, survival, and migration. This review will focus on the functions of the focal adhesion kinase (FAK) protein-tyrosine kinase (PTK) and its role in linking integrin receptors to intracellular signaling pathways. FAK associates with several different signaling proteins such as Src-family PTKs, p130Cas, Shc, Grb2, PI 3-kinase, and paxillin. This enables FAK to function within a network of integrin-stimulated signaling pathways leading to the activation of targets such as the ERK and JNK/mitogen-activated protein kinase pathways. Focus will be placed on the structural domains and sites of FAK tyrosine phosphorylation important for FAK-mediated signaling events and how these sites are conserved in the FAK-related PTK, Pyk2. We will review what is known about FAK activation by integrin receptor-mediated events and also non-integrin stimuli. In addition, we discuss the emergence of a consensus FAK substrate phosphorylation sequence. Emphasis will also be placed on the role of FAK in generating cell survival signals and the cleavage of FAK during caspase-mediated apoptosis. An in-depth discussion will be presented of integrin-stimulated signaling events occurring in the FAK knockout fibroblasts (FAK-) and how these cells exhibit deficits in cell migration. FAK re-expression in the FAK- cells confirms the role of this PTK in the regulation of cell morphology and in promoting cell migration events. In addition, these results reinforce the potential role for FAK in promoting an invasive phenotype in human tumors.