We examine the P-wave velocity structure beneath the island of Hawaii using P-wave residuals from teleseismic earthquakes recorded by the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory seismic network. The station geometry and distribution of events makes it possible to image the velocity structure between ~ 40 and 100 km depth with a lateral resolution of ~ 15 km and a vertical resolution of ~ 30 km. For depths between 40 and 80 km, P-wave velocities are up to 5 per cent slower in a broad elongated region trending SE-NW that underlies the island between the two lines defined by the volcanic loci. No direct correlation between the magnitude of the lithospheric anomaly and the current level of volcanic activity is apparent, but the slow region is broadened at ~ 19.8??N and narrow beneath Kilauea. In the case of the occanic lithosphere beneath Hawaii, slow seismic velocities are likely to be related to magma transport from the top of the melting zone at the base of the lithosphere to the surface. Thermal modelling shows that the broad elongated low-velocity zone cannot be explained in terms of conductive heating by one primary conduit per volcano but that more complicated melt pathways must exist.