Thermochronological data reveal that the Late Cretaceous–Tertiary nappe pile of the Anatolide belt of western Turkey displays a two-stage cooling history. Three crustal segments differing in structure and cooling history have been identified. The Central Menderes metamorphic core complex represents an ‘inner’ axial segment of the Anatolide belt and exposes the lowest structural levels of the nappe pile, whereas the two ‘outer’ submassifs, the Gördes submassif to the north and the Çine submassif to the south, represent higher levels of the nappe pile. A regionally significant phase of cooling in the Late Oligocene and Early Miocene affected the outer two submassifs and the upper structural levels of the Central Menderes metamorphic core complex. In the northern part of the Gördes submassif, cooling was related to top-to-the-NNE movement on the Simav detachment, as the apatite fission-track ages show a northward-younging trend in the direction of movement on this detachment. In the Çine submassif, relatively rapid cooling in Late Oligocene and Early Miocene times may have been related to top-to-the-S extensional reactivation of the basal thrust of the overlying Lycian nappes. The second phase of cooling in the Anatolide belt is related to Pliocene to Recent extension resulting in the formation of the Central Menderes metamorphic core complex in the inner part of the Anatolide belt. Core-complex development caused the formation of supra-detachment graben, which document the ongoing separation of the Central Menderes metamorphic core complex from the outer submassifs.