As in several other parts of the British Tertiary Igneous Province, breccias and felsite sheets are closely associated on the Isle of Rum. This association has been described and interpreted by several workers over the last 125 years. Opinion has divided into an intrusive origin for both rock types, as explosion breccias and felsite intrusions, versus a sedimentary origin for the breccias and an extrusive origin for the felsite. Evidence is reviewed for both opinions and it is concluded that the latter is substantially correct, as indicated by the presence of sedimentary structures and interbedded tuffs in the breccias and eutaxitic textures in the felsites. The breccias formed by inwards slumping of rocks from the oversteepened walls of a caldera, whereas the felsites formed by eruption of pyroclastic flows which were thick and hot enough to weld. It is inferred that the caldera formed initially and subsided progressively without any accompanying eruptions, and this is attributed to growth of the underlying magma chamber. The breccias accumulated during this stage. There followed a resurgent stage in which caldera collapse occurred in response to repeated ignimbrite eruptions partially emptying the magma chamber. The chamber is inferred to have been chemically and mineralogically zoned.