The model of a foreland propagating sequence already presented for the External Hellenides is significantly modified in this paper. New data are used, including structural maps, cross-sections, stratigraphic determinations and seismic profiles. In general, thrusts formed a foreland propagating sequence but they acted simultaneously for a long period of time. Thus, during the Middle Eocene the Pindos thrust resulted in the formation of the Ionian–Gavrovo foreland and acted in tandem with the newly formed Gavrovo thrust within the basin until the Late Oligocene. The Gavrovo thrust consists of segments, showing that out-of-sequence thrusting was important. Thrust nucleation and propagation history is strongly influenced by normal faults formed in the forebulge region of the Ionian–Gavrovo foreland basin. Shortening rates within the Gavrovo–Ionian foreland are low, about 1 mm/year. Although thrust load played an important role in the formation of this basin, the additional load of 3500 m thick clastics in the basin enhanced subsidence and underthrusting.