The layered cumulus rocks of the Marum ophiolite complex in northern Papua New Guinea range from highly magnesian dunite, wehrlite, and lherzolite through pyroxenite to norite-gabbro with minor anorthosite and ferronorite-gabbro near the top of the sequence. Most of the cumulates, particularly the gabbroic rocks, are characterised by recrystallised adcumulus textures and all intercumulus melt (mesostasis) has been expelled. Trends in the cumulate sequence from Mg-rich to more Fe-, Ca- and Al-rich compositions are consistent with the formation of the layered sequence by magmatic accumulation from mafic tholeiitic magmas with varying degrees of differentiation. The cumulates are characterised by extremely low levels of 'incompatible' elements (K, Ba, Rb, P, Zr, Nb, Hf, Y and REE) at all levels of differentiation. REE patterns are strongly depleted in LREE; HREE abundances range from ≦0.3 chondrites in peridotite to 3 x chondrites in the norite-gabbros. The Marum cumulates resemble low-Ti peridotites and gabbros found in other orthopyroxene-bearing ophiolite sequences. The parent magmas of the Marum cumulates are inferred to have been strongly depleted in 'incompatible' trace elements (∼ 2,000 ppm Ti, ∼20 ppm Zr, 6-9 x chondrites HREE with LaN/SmN∼0.5). These abundances are lower than found in typical MORB and back-arc basin basalts or their picritic parents. The dissimilarity of trace element abundances of the inferred Marum parent magmas with MORB-type high-alumina olivine tholeiites supports the conclusion drawn previously from the petrology of the cumulates that the parent magmas to the Marum ophiolite were not of MORB composition but resembled the strongly depleted, Ni-rich magnesian olivine-poor tholeiites and quartz tholeiites of the Upper Pillow Lavas of the Troodos ophiolite. The Marum parent magmas are believed to have been formed by shallow melting of refractory peridotite, and are chemically and genetically distinct from the LREE-enriched high-Ti lavas (Tumu River basalts) which occur in faulted contact. The geochemical data do not permit unequivocal assignment of a tectonic environment for the formation of either the Tumu River basalts or the plutonic suite; their juxtaposition results from thrust emplacement.