Zircon growth in high-grade metamorphic rocks may be triggered by net transfer reactions involving the breakdown of a phase bearing zirconium (Zr). We have measured the concentration of Zr in the major minerals in granulite-facies rocks of differing bulk composition. Both garnet and hornblende contain tens of parts per million Zr, and no other major phase contains significant Zr. Simple calculations show that reaction of either garnet or hornblende to form non–Zr-bearing phases will release sufficient Zr to account for at least some new zircon growth. U-Pb ages from new zircon, grown as a result of either hornblende or garnet breakdown, are not expected to record the time of peak metamorphism, but rather will record the time of particular metamorphic reactions, allowing direct correlation of zircon ages with petrologically derived pressure-temperature-time paths. This approach offers the potential for more rigorous interpretation of the metamorphic significance of zircon ages than has previously been possible.