Melagranites (colour index > 20, with biotite > garnet > cordierite) constitute ∼0.1% of the area of the 7300 km2 peraluminous South Mountain Batholith (SMB), Nova Scotia. The melagranites occur as small bodies showing sharp to gradational contacts against the Meguma Supergroup country rocks, and coeval mingling contacts against other facies of the batholith. They also occur as elliptical or blocky metre-scale enclaves elsewhere in the SMB. Characteristic petrological features of the melagranites include high modal abundances of sulphide minerals, strongly reacted metasedimentary xenoliths, mafic mineral-rich clots, apparent porphyritic textures with highly variable proportions of alkali feldspar megacrysts, and allotriomorphic-granular textures. Chemically and isotopically, melagranite rocks have wide compositional variations. In most major-element, trace-element, and isotopic variation diagrams, the melagranites lie on mixing lines between the more abundant granodioritic and monzogranitic phases of the SMB and the metasedimentary rocks of the Meguma Supergroup. Textural evidence, supported by published experimental evidence, suggests that the garnet, cordierite, and K-feldspar are peritectic phases resulting from incongruent melting of the pelitic fraction of the Meguma metasedimentary country rocks. The field relations, mineral assemblages, textural features, and chemical compositions of the melagranites all point to the melagranites as highly concentrated contamination zones in the SMB, representing small portions of the batholith that have failed either to complete the assimilation process or to disperse their contaminants widely in the batholith. As such, these rarely preserved melagranites provide petrogenetic information disproportionate in importance to their abundance in the batholith, especially about the significant role of contamination and assimilation in determining the physical and chemical composition of the SMB. Without preservation of melagranites in the SMB, and by extension all granite bodies, the petrogenetic importance of contamination is difficult to assess, even with trace-element and isotopic data. The present study shows that high quality field observations are as important in deciphering petrogenesis as chemical data.