Detrital K-feldspar and muscovite samples from Ocean Drilling Program Leg 116 cores have been dated by the 40Ar/39Ar technique and have depositional ages from 0 to 18 Ma. From 4 to 13 individual K-feldspars and 1 to 12 individual muscovites have been dated from 7 stratigraphic levels. In every level at least one K-feldspar and one muscovite yielded a minimum age identical, within uncertainty, to the age of deposition. These results indicate that a signiflcant portion of the material in the Bengal fan is first-cycle detritus derived from the Himalaya. Therefore, the substantial amount of sediment deposited in the distal fan in early to middle Miocene time can be ascribed to a significant pulse of uplift and erosion in the collision zone at this time. Moreover, these data indicate that throughout the Neogene, some part of the Himalayan orogen was undergoing rapid erosion (1 to 10 mm/yr); this erosion must have been less than or equal to uplift relative to sea level. The lack of granulite facies rocks in the eastern Himalaya and Tibetan plateau suggests to us that very rapid uplift must have been distributed in brief pulses over different parts of the mountain belt. These data are incompatible with tectonic models in which the Himalaya and Tibetan plateau are uplifted either uniformly over the past 40 m.y. or mostly within the past 2 to 5 m.y.