Understanding the early history of the North Atlantic Ocean is made difficult by a lack of detailed tectonic information from its margins. Analysis of brittle deformation in the basalts of the Faeroe Islands constrains ages, types, and orientations of tectonic movements related to the North Atlantic Paleogene kinematic evolution. Three synmagmatic tectonic episodes affected the Faeroe area between chrons 26r and 24, followed by postmagmatic transtension. Changes in trends of minimum horizontal stress are consistent with variations in the directions of North Atlantic early opening, and this tectonic history is correlated with the Greenland drift episodes in Paleogene time. Although transtensional strike-slip faulting dominated, unexpected reverse faulting with N60°E-trending compression occurred between chrons 25 and 24, corresponding to a major kinematic change in the Labrador Sea opening.