The 3500-m-thick sequence of volcanic rocks at Noril'sk, formed during a brief interval (???1 m.y.) at the Permian/Triassic time boundary (???251 Ma), represents the earliest part of the ???6500-m-thick sequence presently ascribed to the Siberian flood-basalt province. It is composed of picritic and basaltic lavas of both low-Ti and high-Ti parentage. Extensive geological, geochemical, and isotopic study of the lava sequence and related intrusions allows detailed reconstruction of its petrogenesis. Various crustal-related processes - fractionation, crustal contamination, sulfide separation, and magma mixing - participated in the formation of the lavas. The geochemical and isotopic characteristics indicative of these processes, as well as mantle-related signatures of lava compositions, are discussed. Based on these characteristics, detailed interpretations of lava genesis and evolution throughout the Noril'sk sequence are presented. Eight varieties of lavas are recognized to be primitive, similar in composition to primary mantle melts; they varied from low-Mg basalts to olivine tholeiites or picrites, with normal tholeiites predominating. The primitive lavas are subdivided into four groups (magma types) on the basis of trace-element ratios (principally. Gd/Yb, Th/U, La/Yb, Ta/La, Ti/Sc, and V/Yb) and isotopic data. Three of the groups include both basaltic and picritic primitive lavas (with low-Mg basalts present in one of them), whereas the fourth group is represented exclusively by tholeiites. Distinctions among the groups cannot be related to degree of melting, and isotopic data indicate that none of the magma types could have formed by mixing or contamination of other types. Apparently, only differences in source composition and/or depth of melting can explain the magmatic diversity. This multitude of primitive magma types may be explained by melting in different layers of the upper mantle, which is complexly layered beneath Siberia to depths of 270 km. Moreover, no clear boundary between lithosphere and asthenosphere is evident in the deep seismic profile. A large-scale event is necessary to account for melting in different parts of the upper mantle and formation of the great volume of the Siberian flood basalts in ???1 m.y. Extension, caused by ascent of a mantle plume, would provide a reasonable explanation, but no plume-related uplift is documented in north-central Siberia prior to, or during, eruption of the volcanic sequence.