Ezrin, radixin and moesin are a family of proteins that provide a link between the plasma membrane and the cortical actin cytoskeleton. The regulated targeting of ezrin to the plasma membrane and its association with cortical F-actin are more than likely functions necessary for a number of cellular processes, such as cell adhesion, motility, morphogenesis and cell signalling. The interaction with F-actin was originally mapped to the last 34 residues of ezrin, which correspond to the last three helices (alphaB, alphaC and alphaD) of the C-terminal tail. We set out to identify and mutate the ezrin/F-actin binding site in order to pinpoint the role of F-actin interaction in morphological processes as well as signal transduction. We report here the generation of an ezrin mutant defective in F-actin binding. We identified four actin-binding residues, T576, K577, R579 and I580, that form a contiguous patch on the surface of the last helix, alphaD. Interestingly, mutagenesis of R579 also eliminated the interaction of band four-point one, ezrin, radixin, moesin homology domains (FERM) and the C-terminal tail domain, identifying a hotspot of the FERM/tail interaction. In vivo expression of the ezrin mutant defective in F-actin binding and FERM/tail interaction (R579A) altered the normal cell surface structure dramatically and inhibited cell migration. Further, we showed that ezrin/F-actin binding is required for the receptor tyrosine kinase signal transfer to the Ras/MAP kinase signalling pathway. Taken together, these observations highlight the importance of ezrin/F-actin function in the development of dynamic membrane/actin structures critical for cell shape and motility, as well as signal transduction.