In this paper, we show that deformation can be dated by combining mesoscopic and microscopic structural observations with an understanding of metamorphic mineral reactions and U-Pb ages of newly grown sphene (titanite). This approach can be used on a variety of rock types that have been deformed at a wide range of metamorphic conditions. In an example from the Proterozoic Laramie Peak shear zone of southeastern Wyoming, a single period of syntectonic sphene growth in sheared mafic dikes is documented both by a strong spatial relationship between deformation and metamorphism and by sphene microtextures. U-Pb analyses of sphene separates give overlapping concordant or nearly concordant ages with a weighted mean of the 207Pb/206Pb ages of 1763 ± 7 Ma. We interpret this direct age of deformation as evidence that the Laramie Peak shear zone records the cratonic response to the 1.78–1.74 Ga Cheyenne belt collisional event.