An early stage of magmatism related to Red Sea rifting is recorded by a Tertiary dyke complex and comagmatic volcanic rocks exposed on the central Saudi Arabian coastal plain. Field relations and new K/Ar dates indicate episodic magmatism from approx 30 m.y. to the present day and rift-related magmatism as early as 50 m.y. Localized volcanism and sheeted dyke injection ceased at approx 20 m.y. and were replaced by the intrusion of thick gabbro dykes, marking the onset of sea-floor spreading in the central Red Sea. Differences in the depths and dynamics of mantle-melt extraction and transport may account for the transition from mixed alkaline-subalkaline bimodal magmatism of the pre-20 m.y. rift basin to exclusively subalkaline (tholeiitic) magmatism of the Red Sea spreading axis and the alkali basalt volcanism inland.-L.C.H.