Detailed major and trace element studies of volcanic rocks from Jefferson, Rainier, and Shasta stratovolcanoes in the Cascade Range indicate that each volcano has distinct geochemical distribution patterns. Silica variation diagrams are not smooth nor, in general, continuous for any volcano. Portions of stratigraphic sections within the volcanoes exhibit compositional coherency and are interpreted as eruptive groups which were extruded over time intervals which are short compared to the lifetimes of the volcanoes. The results of this investigation indicate the leasibility of geochemically mapping eruptive groups within stratovolcanoes. Systematic compositional trends are not observed within thick (500-1000 m) eruptive groups but may occur over thicknesses of <200 m. Compositional variations within eruptive groups are commonly non-systematic and show ranges similar to the ranges observed in individual flows. Correlations between the amounts or kinds of phenocryst phases present and intra-group compositional variation is not observed. Inter-group compositional differences are sometimes accompanied by mineralogical differences. Late andesites and dacites at Rainier and Shasta are characterized by decreases in K and Rb while at Jefferson increases in these elements and other compositional changes occur in the late eruptives. Progressive fractional crystallization models do not seem capable of explaining the element distributions observed in the three volcanoes. Existing data are consistent with a model involving varying degrees of melting of some combination of amphibolite, eclogite or peridotite in or above a subduction zone with varying water contents. Segregation and sequential eruption of small batches of magma may produce the eruptive groups characterizing the volcanoes. Late mafic magmas erupted at satellite vents appear to be produced in different (deeper?) mantle source areas.