The presynaptic serotonin (5-HT) transporter (SERT) is targeted by widely prescribed antidepressant medications. Altered SERT expression or regulation has been implicated in multiple neuropsychiatric disorders, including anxiety, depression and autism. Here, we implement a generalizable strategy that exploits antagonist-conjugated quantum dots (Qdots) to monitor, for the first time, single SERT proteins on the surface of serotonergic cells. We document two pools of SERT proteins defined by lateral mobility, one that exhibits relatively free diffusion, and a second, localized to cholesterol and GM1 ganglioside-enriched microdomains, that displays restricted mobility. Receptor-linked signaling pathways that enhance SERT activity mobilize transporters that, nonetheless, remain confined to membrane microdomains. Mobilization of transporters arises from a p38 MAPK-dependent untethering of the SERT C terminus from the juxtamembrane actin cytoskeleton. Our studies establish the utility of ligand-conjugated Qdots for analysis of the behavior of single membrane proteins and reveal a physical basis for signaling-mediated SERT regulation.