We have studied the structural behavior of PbO at high pressure by powder neturon diffraction in a McWhan cell, and by energy-dispersive powder x-ray diffraction and Raman spectroscopy in a diamond anvil cell. A phase (γ-PbO) occurs at room temperature between ∼0.7 and ∼2.5 GPa pressure, between the stability fields of litharge (<0.7 GPa) and massicot (2.5-10.1 GPa). There is presumably a triple point in the system at a few kbar and 0-200 °C. The phase is related to litharge by a reversible second-order transition. We infer that this is associated with the collapse of the eu acoustic mode. Unit-cell data at 1.6 GPa are Pm21n, a=4.027(3) , b=3.950(3) , c=4.767(4) , and Z=2. The pressure evolution of the spontaneous strain follows a simple Landau model. There are four distinct solid-state transformation paths between litharge and massicot that maintain the known topotactic relationship between the phases, maintain the translational symmetry common to both, and make use of continuous transitions between group-subgroup related structural intermediates. Both the γ phase and the modulated low-temperature phase of PbO are closely related to one step on one of these paths. Although there is evidence to suggest that the intermediate states do have a transient existence, several paths appear to be utilized. A transition to a γ-like phase also occurs in SnO, at 2.5 GPa, although there is no evidence of a massicotlike polymorph of this compound. The orthorhombic phase is stable to at least 7.5 GPa.