The cell surface receptor for epidermal growth factor (EGFR), a receptor tyrosine kinase, is a key player in normal cell growth and proliferation. Mutations in this receptor often lead to oncological transformation and other pathologies. Because of its representation of the receptor tyrosine kinase family and its important role in health and disease, a broad range of studies have been carried out in many laboratories to investigate the structural basis for transmembrane receptor activation and the resulting assembly of cytosolic signaling components. This review highlights two approaches our laboratory has taken to gain more detailed information about both aspects: Surface patterned ligands to examine recruitment of the signaling machinery, and mutational analysis to examine the regulatory role of EGFR's juxtamembrane segment. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Interactions between membrane receptors in cellular membranes edited by Kalina Hristova. Copyright © 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.