The Permian-Triassic Transantarctic basin, which occupied the Panthalassan margin of the East Antarctic craton, including the present Transantarctic and Ellsworth Mountains, evolved above a mid-Paleozoic passive continental margin basement through the following stages: (1) Carboniferous/Permian extension, (2) late Early Permian back-arc basin, (3) Late Permian and Triassic foreland basin, and (4) Jurassic extension and tholeiitic volcanism. A mid-Paleozoic (Devonian) wedge of coastal-to-shallow marine quartzose sandstone developed on the eroded roots of the Late Cambrian-Early Ordovician Ross orogen. A lacuna in East Antarctica during the Carboniferous was followed by the inception of Gondwanan deposition in a wide Carboniferous/Permian extensional basin. Volcanic detritus at the base of the late Early Permian post-glacial marine(?) shale and sandstone sequence in the Ellsworth Mountains is the first sign of a volcanic arc and subduction along the Panthalassan margin. A similar but much thinner non-volcaniclastic sequence accumulated in the Transantarctic Mountains. The introduction of abundant volcanic detritus to the cratonic side of the basin and a 180° paleocurrent reversal in the Late Permian in the Beardmore Glacier area are the earliest indicators of tectonism along the outer margin of the basin and the inception of a foreland basin that accumulated thick Late Permian and Triassic braided stream deposits of mixed volcanic and cratonic provenance. The Permian sequences in the Ellsworth and Pensacola Mountains were folded in the Triassic. The foreland basin was succeeded in the Early Jurassic by extension and initial silicic and then tholeiitic volcanism that led to the breakup of Gondwanaland.