The area of contact between a T cell and an antigen-presenting cell (APC) is known as the immunological synapse. Although its exact function is unknown, one model suggests that it allows for T cell receptor (TCR) clustering and for sustained signaling in T cells for many hours. Here we demonstrate that TCR-mediated tyrosine kinase signaling in naive T cells occurred primarily at the periphery of the synapse and was largely abated before mature immunological synapses had formed. These data suggest that many hours of TCR signaling are not required for T cell activation. These observations challenge current ideas about the role of immunological synapses in T cell activation.