Understanding allostery may serve to both elucidate mechanisms of protein regulation and provide a basis for engineering active mutants. Herein we describe directed evolution applied to the integrin alpha(L) inserted domain for studying allostery by using a yeast surface display system. Many hot spots for activation are identified, and some single mutants exhibit remarkable increases of 10,000-fold in affinity for a physiological ligand, intercellular adhesion molecule-1. The location of activating mutations traces out an allosteric interface in the interior of the inserted domain that connects the ligand binding site to the alpha7-helix, which communicates allostery to neighboring domains in intact integrins. The combination of two activating mutations (F265S/F292G) leads to an increase of 200,000-fold in affinity to intercellular adhesion molecule-1. The F265S/F292G mutant is potent in antagonizing lymphocyte function-associated antigen 1-dependent lymphocyte adhesion, aggregation, and transmigration.