The primitive magmas of Kilauca and Mauna Loa are generated by partial melting of mantle peridotite at depths of -60 km or more. Results of high-pressure melting experiments indicate that the primitive melt must contain at least 20% MgO in order to have olivine as a liquidus mineral. The least fractionated lavas of both volcanoes have olivine (Fa13) on the liquidus at 1 atmosphere, suggesting that the only substance lost from the primitive melt, during a rather rapid ascent to the surface, is olivine. This relation allows the primitive composition to be computed by adding olivine to the composition of an erupted lava until total MgO is at least 20 percent. Although roughly similar, historic lavas of the two volcanoes show a consistent difference in composition. The primitive melt of Mauna Loa contains 20% more dissolved orthopyroxene, a high-temperature melting phase in the mantle, and is deficient in elements such as potassium, uranium, and niobium, which presumably occur in minor low-melting phases. Mauna Loa appears to be the older volcano, deriving its magma at higher temperature and greater depth from a more depleted source rock. ?? 1970 Springer-Verlag.