The convergence recorded in some Pan-African deformational belts (sensu lato) in South America, Africa, Madagascar, southern India, Sri Lanka, and Antarctica is temporally correlated with opening of the Iapetus ocean. We propose a model in which continent-continent collision and closure of the Adamastor ocean between the Amazon–West African–Rio de La Plata cratons and the São Francisco–Congo–Kalahari cratons in the late Neoproterozoic are linked to rifting and orthogonal spreading between Laurentia and the South American cratons. By the Early Cambrian, the cratons in South America and Africa were assembled as West Gondwana. Closure of the Mozambique ocean, which appears to have extended across Antarctica between Lützow-Holm Bay and the Shackleton Range, resulted in continued convergence between the Congo–Kalahari–Queen Maud Land block and East Gondwana in the Cambrian. Coeval deformation in the Transantarctic Mountains may be related to the obliquity of the Antarctic margin relative to Iapetus spreading directions. Initiation of voluminous arc magmatism along the paleo-Pacific margin of Gondwana in the Early Cambrian is broadly synchronous with the cessation of intra-Gondwana Pan-African deformation, possibly reflecting a change in plate motions at the time of final Gondwana assembly. The new subduction regime along the Gondwana margin in the Early Cambrian may be linked to the closure of the Iapetus ocean basin.