During the north-east rift eruption of Mauna Loa volcano, Hawaii, on 25 March-14 April 1984 (Fig. 1), microphenocryst contents of erupted lava increased from 0.5 to 30% without concurrent change in either bulk magma composition or eruption temperature (1,140 ?? 3 ??C). The crystallization of the microphenocrysts is interpreted here as being due to undercooling of the magma 20-30 ??C below its liquidas; the undercooling probably resulted from separation and release of volatiles as the magma migrated 12 km from the primary summit reservoir to the eruption site on the north-east rift zone. Such crystallization of magma during an eruption has not been documented previously. The undercooling and crystallization increased the effective viscosity of the magma, leading to decreased eruption rates and stagnation of the lava flow. ?? 1985 Nature Publishing Group.