Two principal, possibly overlapping, periods of tectonic deformation can be distinguished in the Archean of northwestern Ontario, a period of dominantly vertical-motion tectonics and a period of dominantly horizontal-motion tectonics. Gigantic diapirs of foliated to gneissic tonalite–granodiorite developed during the first period and appear to be responsible for the gross structure of, and the major folds within, the metavolcanic–metasedimentary masses ("greenstone belts"). These diapirs are most likely due to mechanical remobilization of early tabular batholiths which originally intruded the oldest supracrustal rocks presently exposed. Later massive to foliated, dioritic to granitic plutons that vary from concordant, crescentic plutons to partly discordant plutons of various shapes and sizes were emplaced into the diapirs.The second period of tectonic deformation is characterized by large-scale dextral shearing and the development of major transcurrent faults under northwesterly regional compression. The strike-slip motions of this period outlasted the late plutonism, and led to the development of mylonitic zones which cut all Archean granitoid plutons.