The Famatina belt, Central Andes, is part of an ancient accretionary margin built along Western Gondwana in the early Palaeozoic. U–Pb ion microprobe analysis of detrital zircons and Sm–Nd whole-rock analysis of two early Palaeozoic low-grade metasedimentary units record the early evolution of this region. Detrital zircons in the Negro Peinado and Achavil formations have ages ranging from Palaeoproterozoic to Cambrian, consistent with derivation from Gondwanan sources. TDM ages suggest that the sedimentary rocks were derived from a composite source area, which separated from the mantle during the Palaeoproterozoic (c. 1.8–1.6 Ga). Constraints from the youngest detrital grains indicate accumulation in a Mid- to Late Cambrian foreland basin adjacent to the inboard Pampean orogenic tract. The dominance of Cambrian ages in the Negro Peinado Formation suggests derivation principally from the eastern Pampean belt whereas the dominance of late Neoproterozoic ages in the Achavil Formation suggests that input from the Pampean belt was overwhelmed by older sources. The paucity of Palaeoproterozoic ages argues against direct input from older areas such as the Río de la Plata craton. The predominance of Meso- and Neoproterozoic ages over older sources suggests that a Brasiliano-age magmatic arc developed on a Mesoproterozoic basement, probably a southern extension of the Arequipa–Antofalla massif.