The adhesion protein talin and the phosphoinositide PIP2 are emerging as key modulators of adhesion dynamics. Recent genetic studies on talin demonstrate its physiological role in organizing adhesions, stabilizing integrin-actin linkages and mediating integrin signaling in vivo. Biophysical force measurements provide further evidence that it is required for the reinforcement of the extracellular matrix-integrin-actin connection. Knockdown data along with structural analyses establish a major role for talin in 'inside-out' integrin activation through its direct interaction with integrin cytoplasmic domains. A recently uncovered role for talin is the recruitment of a PIPKI gamma isoform to adhesions. This introduces a novel connection between talin and PIP2 generation. Finally, PIP2 also stimulates the transient, direct binding interaction of the Arp2/3 complex with vinculin and thus may couple adhesion to actin assembly.