The present-day Zagros mountain belt of SW Iran corresponds to the former Arabian passive continental margin of the southern Neo-Tethyan basin, which existed since a Permian–Triassic rifting episode and underwent later collisional deformation in mid- to late Cenozoic time. In West Zagros, the Kermanshah Radiolarian Trough, separated from the Neo-Tethyan basin by the narrow continental platform of the Bisotun Limestone, resulted from the Triassic–Jurassic rifting of the passive margin. Brittle tectonic analyses of syndepositional normal fault slip data have been undertaken to study the extensional history of the passive margin in terms of palaeostress reconstruction. Dominant east–west trends of the inherited rift-related normal faults in West Zagros indicate an approximately north–south trend of extension that prevailed during the entire Mesozoic syn- to post-rift evolution of the radiolarian trough. This extension characterizes a stretched continental margin similar to the present-day passive margin of the British Isles. Considering the structural pattern of the inherited basement faults, as revealed by the present-day earthquake focal mechanisms, an oblique crustal stretching model is proposed for the rifting process.