Rapid sea-level changes are generally interpreted in terms of glacio-eustasy, but they can also be explained by the lithospheric motions associated with changes in intra-plate stress. In eastern Spain, latest Senonian-Paleocene time was characterized by a wide-spread regression, which culminated in the emergence of large parts of the carbonate platform. New data indicate that the platform emergence was accompanied by slope faulting and a sudden appearance of olistostromes and sandy turbidites at the southern Iberian margin of southeast Spain. These changes in basin geometry are the result of a tectonic event which is dated as middle Paleocene (ca. 60 Ma). This tectonic event can be correlated with the onset of collision in the Pyrenees. Regional geologic data and paleostress measurements provide evidence for far-field transmission of the Pyrenean compressive stresses through the Iberian lithosphere. It is concluded that the platform emergence and slope steepening at the southern Iberian margin reflect the vertical lithospheric motions of a basin flank subjected to compression.