Earliest Miocene (20-24 Ma) faulting and volcanism were widespread in western California, including the San Joaquin-La Honda basin, Coast Ranges, and Transverse Ranges. Evidence for strike slip on faults of this age is lacking. Their arrangement on a pre-San Andreas restoration suggests continuity with early Miocene extended terranes in eastern California and southwestern Arizona. Deformation was probably not an effect of transform or triple-junction-migration tectonics, because it was synchronous over 300 km of latitude and there is no direct evidence for a transform boundary until late in early Miocene time. Magnetic anomalies in the eastern Pacific permit an interpretation that a spreading ridge supplied a still-active subduction zone with young oceanic crust until sometime after 20 Ma. If so, extension evidently took place in an arc-related setting. A transform regime probably formed about 18 Ma, when most basins underwent episodes of deepening or uplift, strike-slip faults became active, and rotation of the western Transverse Ranges block began.