Recent mapping and whole-rock geochemistry studies demonstrate that mafic metavolcanic rocks found along the boundary between the exotic Carolina terrane and the Inner Piedmont formed in a subduction-related volcanic are and do not represent the Iapetan suture. Mafic metavolcanic rocks are spatially and genetically related to zoned mafic-ultramafic intrusive complexes. These rocks are similar to those found in other ancient and modern volcanic island arcs where ankaramites and picrites are well known, and they are locally associated with zoned complexes, e.g., Sierra Foothills-Klamath Mountains of the western U.S. Cordillera. We propose that prior to accretion to Laurentia in the early to middle Paleozoic, the Carolina arc terrane underwent an episode of intea-arc rifting which allowed primitive arc magmas to ascend and erupt without significant crystal fractionation or lithospheric assimilation. This interpretation may help resolve some stratigraphie problems in the eastern part of the Carolina terrane (Carolina slate belt).