The Alaşehir graben is a well-defined prominent extensional structure in western Turkey, generally trending E–W and containing four sedimentary units. At the beginning of graben formation during Early–Middle Miocene times, the first fault system was active and responsible for the accumulation of the first and second sedimentary units. In Pliocene times, a second fault system developed in the hanging wall of the first system and a third sedimentary unit was deposited. The recently active third fault system separates older graben fill and a fourth sedimentary unit. Activity on each fault system caused the rotation and uplift of previous systems, similar to the ‘flexural rotation/rolling hinge’ model, but our field observations indicate that the rotated first fault system is also active, allowing exhumation of larger amounts of rock units. This paper documents that graben formation in western Turkey is a sequential process. Its different periods are represented by three fault systems and associated sedimentation. Consequently, recent claims using age data from only the second and/or third sedimentary units to determine the timing of graben formation are misleading.