The Yilgarn Craton results from three major mantle input events (at ca 3.0–2.9, 2.8 and 2.7 Ga) that have interacted with > 3.0 Ga continental crust. Zircon geochronology and Sm-Nd isotopic data subdivide the craton into an older Yilgarn proto-craton and the younger, more primitive Eastern Goldfields Superterrane (EGST). Formation of the Kalgoorlie-Kurnalpi Rift (KKR) within the EGST was associated with the 2.7 Ga event, which exploited weakened crust at the eastern margin of the Yilgarn proto-craton where thick sequences of komatiite and basalt were erupted between ca 2710 and 2690 Ma in the Kalgoorlie Terrane. Calc-alkaline volcanism in the Kurnalpi Terrane began at ca 2730 Ma and continued to ca 2690 Ma, overlapping rifting and plume-related volcanism in the Kalgoorlie Terrane. Deposition of siliciclastic sedimentary rocks within basins at ca 2660 resulted from an intra-orogenic extensional event and coincided with the transition from High-Ca to Low-Ca granite magmatism and peak emplacement of intrusions with a metasomatised mantle source component. Most aspects of the KKR are satisfied by broadly coincident plume-related magmatism in the Kalgoorlie Terrane and westward subduction to the east of the Burtville Terrane. Geochemical characteristics of 2730–2700 Ma calc-alkaline volcanism and 2685–2630 Ma low-SiO2 and alkali-rich intrusions support models for a continental margin subduction zone setting. World-class gold deposits formed in reactivated margins of the KKR, which became flux zones for mantle-derived magmas, hydrothermal fluids and heat during 2675–2620 Ma orogenesis. The orogenic gold mineralisation can be subdivided into proximal intrusion-related and distal-source deposits.