Integrins require an activation step prior to ligand binding and signaling. How talin and kindlin contribute to these events in non-hematopoietic cells is poorly understood. Here we report that fibroblasts lacking either talin or kindlin failed to activate β1 integrins, adhere to fibronectin (FN) or maintain their integrins in a high affinity conformation induced by Mn(2+). Despite compromised integrin activation and adhesion, Mn(2+) enabled talin- but not kindlin-deficient cells to initiate spreading on FN. This isotropic spreading was induced by the ability of kindlin to directly bind paxillin, which in turn bound focal adhesion kinase (FAK) resulting in FAK activation and the formation of lamellipodia. Our findings show that talin and kindlin cooperatively activate integrins leading to FN binding and adhesion, and that kindlin subsequently assembles an essential signaling node at newly formed adhesion sites in a talin-independent manner.