For the period between 14.7 and 11.5 cal. (calibrated) kyr B.P, the sediment flux of Bindschadler Ice Stream (BIS; West Antarctica) averaged 1.7 × 108 m3 a−1. This implies that BIS velocity averaged 500 ± 120 m a−1. At a finer resolution, the data suggest two stages of ice stream flow. During the first 2400 ± 400 years of a grounding-zone stillstand, ice stream flow averaged 200 ± 90 m a−1. Following ice-shelf breakup at 12.3 ± 0.2 cal. kyr B.P., flow accelerated to 1350 ± 580 m a−1. The estimated ice volume discharge after breakup exceeds the balance velocity by a factor of two and implies ice mass imbalance of −40 Gt a−1 just before the grounding zone retreated >200 km. We interpret that the paleo-BIS maintained sustainable discharge throughout the grounding-zone stillstand first due to the buttressing effect of its fringing ice shelf and then later (i.e., after ice-shelf breakup) due to the stabilizing effects of grounding-zone wedge aggradation. Major paleo–ice stream retreat, shortly after the ice-shelf breakup that triggered the inferred ice flow acceleration, substantiates the current concerns about rapid, near-future retreat of major glaciers in the Amundsen Sea sector where Pine Island and Thwaites Glaciers are already experiencing ice-shelf instability and grounding-zone retreat that have triggered upstream-propagating thinning and ice acceleration.