Cell migration requires the fine spatiotemporal integration of many proteins that regulate the fundamental processes that drive cell movement. Focal adhesion (FA) dynamics is a continuous process involving coordination between FA and actin cytoskeleton, which is essential for cell migration. We studied the spatiotemporal relationship between the dynamics of focal adhesion kinase (FAK) and paxillin at FAs in the protrusion of living endothelial cells. Concurrent dual-color imaging showed that FAK was assembled at FA first, which was followed by paxillin recruitment to the FA. By tracking and quantifying FAK and paxillin in migrating cells, the normalized FAK/Paxillin fluorescence intensity (FI) ratio is > 1 (∼4 fold) at cell front, ∼1 at cell center, and < 1 at cell rear. The significantly higher FAK FI than paxillin FI at cell front indicates that the assembly of FAK-FAs occurs ahead of paxillin at cell front. To determine the time difference between the assemblies of FAK and paxillin at nascent FAs, FAs containing both FAK and paxillin were quantified by image analysis and time correlation. The results show that FAK assembles at the nascent FAs earlier than paxillin in the protrusions at cell front. © 2014 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.