The geometry and geologic implications of subducted spreading ridges are topics that have bedeviled earth scientists ever since the recognition of plate tectonics. As a consequence of subduction of the Kula-Farallon and East Pacific rises, slab windows formed and migrated beneath the North American Cordillera. The probable shape and extent of these windows, which represent the asthenosphere-filled gaps between two separating, subducting oceanic plates, are depicted from the Late Cretaceous to the present. Possible effects of the existence and migration of slab windows on the Cordillera at various times include cessation of arc volcanism and replacement by rift or plate- edge volcanism; lithospheric uplift, attenuation, and extension; and increased intensity of compressional tectonism. Eocene extensional tectonism and alkaline magmatism in southern British Columbia and the northwestern United States were facilitated by slab-window development.