The plasma membrane of mammalian cells contains detergent-resistant membrane rafts enriched in glycosphingolipids and cholesterol. Although several important signaling molecules have been found in such rafts, evidence documenting a functional role for their localization has been scarce. Using a fractionation scheme that preserves tyrosine phosphorylation, we show that T cell activation leads to a striking compartmentation in the rafts of activated T cell receptor and associated signal-transducing molecules. Conditions that reversibly disrupt raft structure either by dispersing their contents or by forcing their internalization reversibly disrupt the earliest steps of T cell activation. Thus, raft integrity is a prerequisite for efficient T cell receptor signal transduction.