FGF2 is a tumor cell survival factor that is exported from cells by an ER/Golgi-independent secretory pathway. This unconventional mechanism of protein secretion is based on direct translocation of FGF2 across the plasma membrane. The Na,K-ATPase has previously been shown to play a role in this process, however, the underlying mechanism has remained elusive. Here, we define structural elements that are critical for a direct physical interaction between FGF2 and the α1 subunit of the Na,K-ATPase. In intact cells, corresponding FGF2 mutant forms were impaired regarding both recruitment at the inner plasma membrane leaflet and secretion. Ouabain, a drug that inhibits both the Na,K-ATPase and FGF2 secretion, was found to impair the interaction of FGF2 with the Na,K-ATPase in cells. Our findings reveal the Na,K-ATPase as the initial recruitment factor for FGF2 at the inner plasma membrane leaflet being required for efficient membrane translocation of FGF2 to cell surfaces.