Whereas the majority of eruptions at oceanic spreading centers produce lavas with relatively homogeneous mid-ocean ridge basalt (MORB) compositions, the formation of tholeiitic andesites and dacites at mid-ocean ridges (MORs) is a petrological enigma. Eruptions of MOR high-silica lavas are typically associated with ridge discontinuities and have produced regionally significant volumes of lava. Andesites and dacites have been observed and sampled at several locations along the global MOR system; these include propagating ridge tips at ridge-transform intersections on the Juan de Fuca Ridge and eastern Gal??pagos spreading center, and at the 9??N overlapping spreading center on the East Pacific Rise. Despite the formation of these lavas at various ridges, MOR dacites show remarkably similar major element trends and incompatible trace element enrichments, suggesting that similar processes are controlling their chemistry. Although most geochemical variability in MOR basalts is consistent with low-pressure fractional crystallization of various mantle-derived parental melts, our geochemical data for MOR dacitic glasses suggest that contamination from a seawater-altered component is important in their petrogenesis. MOR dacites are characterized by elevated U, Th, Zr, and Hf, low Nb and Ta concentrations relative to rare earth elements (REE), and Al2O3, K2O, and Cl concentrations that are higher than expected from low-pressure fractional crystallization alone. Petrological modeling of MOR dacites suggests that partial melting and assimilation are both integral to their petrogenesis. Extensive fractional crystallization of a MORB parent combined with partial melting and assimilation of amphibole-bearing altered crust produces a magma with a geochemical signature similar to a MOR dacite. This supports the hypothesis that crustal assimilation is an important process in the formation of highly evolved MOR lavas and may be significant in the generation of evolved MORB in general. Additionally, these processes are likely to be more common in regions of episodic magma supply and enhanced magma-crust interaction such as at the ends of ridge segments. ?? The Author 2010. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.