The restoration of catalytic activity to mutant enzymes by small molecules is well-established for in vitro systems. Here we show that the protein tyrosine kinase Src R388A mutant can be rescued in live cells using the small molecule imidazole. Cellular rescue of a v-Src homolog was rapid and reversible and conferred predicted oncogenic properties. Using chemical rescue in combination with mass spectrometry, six known Src kinase substrates were confirmed, and several new protein targets identified. Chemical rescue data suggests that c-Src is active under basal conditions. Rescue of R388A c-Src also allowed contributions of Src to the MAP kinase pathway to be clarified. This chemical rescue approach is likely to be of broad utility in cell signaling.