Hydrothermal gold mineralization occurs in banded iron formation and amphibolite host rocks, respectively, in the Main Hill and Zakanaka deposits in the northern sector of the Pilgangoora greenstone belt of the Pilbara Craton. The supracrustal sequences of the greenstone belt have been folded into N-S trending, megascale isoclinal F2A folds, which have been refolded into open to tight F2B folds. D2 to D3 strike-slip shear zones developed preferentially along the limbs of F2A isoclinal folds and along the granitoid-greenstone belt contact. Gold mineralization is controlled by F2B folds acid shear zones were interpreted to have been activated or reactivated during D2B deformation in both deposits. Gold associated hydrothermal alteration comprises zoned quartz-calc silicate veins and pyrrhotite-pyrite at the Zakanaka deposit and quartz-amphibole-biolite +/- diopside and pyrrhotite-lollingite-arsenopyrite at the Main Hill deposit, Thermobarometric and textural studies indicate that gold mineralization occurred synchronous with the peak of amphibolite-facies metamorphism in both deposits.Lead isotope studies on gold-associated hydrothermal microcline, titanite and pyrrhotite in the Zakanaka deposit yield a Pb-Pb isochron with an age of 2888.2 +/- 6.1 Ma for the alteration and, hence, gold mineralization, This age is confirmed by a concordant Pb-Pb age using SHRIMP on hydrothermal titanite from the Zakanaka deposit of 2904 +/- 70 Ma. The initial isotopic ratio in the ore system, estimated using the isotopic composition of hydrothermal microcline, is much more primitive than 2888 Ma Pb from accepted growth curves, Lead-isotope modeling using the possible ages of rock formation and metamorphic events in the eastern Pilbara Craton shows that the primitive Ph isotope signature is consistent with the 2888 Ma age of alteration, if the Pb was derived from old crust which underwent an early high-grade depletion event.The age of hydrothermal, gold-associated alteration at Zakanaka indirectly constrains the age of the F2B folding event and the peak of amphibolite-facies metamorphism in the Pilgangoora greenstone belt to ca, 2.89 Ga. The special position of the Pilgangoora greenstone belt in the central Pilbara, permits the interpretation of the age of gold mineralization in the light of the tectonic evolution in both parts of the craton, and indicates that mineralization and the associated structural and metamorphic events post-dated the main magmatic evolution in both the east and the west Pilbara Craton, but coincided with late deformational events along strike-slip shear zones in the west Pilbara and late syn-to post-tectonic granitoids and associated metamorphism in the east Pilbara. (C) 1998 Elsevier Science B.V.