The development of biophysical approaches to analyze integrin–ligand binding allows us to visualize in real time the conformational changes that shift the bond affinity between low- and high-affinity states. In this issue, Chen et al. (2012. J. Cell Biol. http://dx.doi.org/jcb.201201091) use these approaches to validate some aspects of the classical integrin regulation model; however, their data suggest that much of the regulation occurs after ligand binding rather than in preparation for ligand binding to occur.