T cell receptor (TCR) phosphorylation by Lck is an essential step in T cell activation. It is known the conformational states of Lck control enzymatic activity; however, the underlying principles of how Lck finds its substrate in the plasma membrane remain elusive. Here, single-particle tracking is paired with photoactivatable localization microscopy (sptPALM) to observe the diffusive modes of Lck in the plasma membrane. Individual Lck molecules switched between free and confined diffusion in resting and stimulated T cells. Conformational state, but not partitioning into membrane domains, caused Lck confinement as open conformation Lck was more confined than closed. Further confinement of kinase-dead versions of Lck suggests that Lck interacts with open active Lck to cause confinement, irrespectively of kinase activity. Our data supports a model that confined diffusion of open Lck results in high local phosphorylation rates and closed Lck diffuses freely to enable wide-range scanning of the plasma membrane.