Broad areas of subcontinental lithospheric mantle are commonly exposed along ocean-continent transition zones in magma-poor rifts and are thought to be exhumed along lithospheric-scale detachment faults during the final stages of rifting. However, the nature of the transition from final rifting to seafloor spreading is controversial. We present the first high-precision U-Pb zircon geochronologic and Hf isotopic data from gabbros that intrude exhumed mantle at Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) Sites 1070 and 1277 in the Newfoundland-Iberia rift (North Atlantic). The sites are conjugate to one another within crust that is commonly considered to have been emplaced during early seafloor spreading. Magnetic data suggest that crustal accretion occurred at both sites during magnetic polarity chrons M3–M0 (130–126 Ma). However, our data indicate that asthenospheric melts were emplaced over brief intervals (≤1 m.y.) prior to or coeval with mantle exhumation at 124 Ma at ODP Site 1070 and 115 Ma at ODP Site 1277. We suggest that this discrepancy is the result of continued mantle exhumation along large, west-dipping detachment faults until lithospheric breakup. The breakup location is likely coincident with the large-amplitude magnetic J anomaly, and our 115 Ma date for magmatism within this anomaly provides the best available age constraint for breakup along the studied transect.