The singer, who was introduced as the "president of pop" by comedian pal Jimmy Fallon, wandered along corridors, up escalators and through the sports arena's concourse performing Take Back the Night.
He then hit the stage to perform a medley of solo hits, including SexyBack, Cry Me a River and Rock Your Body, before announcing, "You asked for it," and reteaming with his 'N Sync bandmates for the worst kept secret of the Vmas.
The quintet performed a minute-long medley of their decade-old bestsellers Girlfriend and Bye Bye Bye before Timberlake returned to his solo hits and performed Suit & Tie and Mirrors.
After his stunning set, which brought the audience to its feet, he was presented with the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award by Fallon, who bowed down before him and asked, "How do you top that? What do I do...? That was unbelievable."
Thrilled Timberlake soaked up the applause and the chanting of his name and joked, "Ok, there's an extra $500 for all of you in your gift bags just for that!"
He added, "I don't deserve this award but I'm not gonna give it back."
Timberlake also paid tribute to his former bandmates, stating, "Half of the Moonmen (Mtv trophies) I ever won I won with those four guys right there, so, above all else... I'm gonna share this award with them."