An ion-microprobe (SIMS) U-Pb zircon dating study on four samples of Precambrian metasediments from the high-grade Bamble Sector, southern Norway, gives the first information on the timing of discrete crust-forming events in the SW part of the Baltic Shield. Recent Nd and Pb studies have indicated that the sources of the clastic metasediments in this area have crustal histories extending back to 1.7 to 2.1 Ga, although there is no record of rocks older than 1.6 Ga in southern Norway. The analysed metasediments are from a sequence of intercalated, centimetre to 10-metre wide units of quartzites, semi-metapelites, metapelites and mafic granulites. The zircons can be grouped in two morphological populations: (1) long prismatic; (2) rounded, often flattened. The BSE images reveal that both populations consist of oscillatory zoned, rounded and corroded cores (detrital grains of magmatic origin) surrounded by homogeneous rims (metamorphic overgrowths). The detrital zircons have 207Pb/206Pb ages between 1367 and 1939 Ma, with frequency maxima in the range 1.85 to 1.70 Ga and 1.60 to 1.50 Ga. There is no correlation between crystal habit and age of the zircon. One resorbed, inner zircon core in a detrital grain is strongly discordant and gives a composite inner core-magmatic outer core 207Pb/206Pb age of 2383 Ma. Two discrete, unzoned zircons have 207Pb/206Pb ages of 1122 and 1133 Ma, representing zircon growth during the Sveconorwegian high-grade metamorphism. Also the μm wide overgrowths, embayments in the detrital cores and apparent 'inner cores' which represent secondary metamorphic zircon growth in deep embayments in detrital grains, are of Sveconorwegian age. The composite-detrital-metamorphic zircon analyses give generally discordant 206Pb/238U versus 207Pb/235U ratios and maximum 207Pb/206Pb ages of 1438 Ma. These data demonstrate the existence of a protocrust of 1.7 to 2.0 Ga in the southwestern part of the Baltic Shield, implying a break in the overall westward younging trend of the Precambrian crust, inferred from the southeastern part of the Baltic Shield.