This geochronological study concentrates on the evolution of the southern part of the Menderes Massif, a metamorphic core complex in W Turkey, by dating single zircons with the Pb–Pb evaporation and the U–Pb methods. We have analysed zircons from granitic augen gneisses of the core as well as from quartzites of the metasedimentary envelope. Zircons from the granitic core gneisses are euhedral with typical igneous morphologies. The single zircon ages of these gneisses indicate a time span for magmatic activity from 520 to 570 Ma with a major event at about 550 Ma. Some gneisses contain older zircons of c. 660 Ma which are interpreted as inherited grains. Zircons from the quartzites are detrital as indicated by their rounded shapes and pitted surfaces. Their ages vary from 526 to 2094 Ma. These data partially coincide with the ages of the gneisses, but also indicate an older source region for the sediments. Neither a Tertiary origin nor metamorphic overgrowth is documented in the Pb ages of the zircons. The results suggest that the southern part of the Menderes Massif developed during a major magmatic episode in latest Proterozoic times, thus suggesting a relation with other Pan-African regions in N Africa.