The Neoproterozoic (c. 870 Ma) West Highland Granitic Gneiss, exposed in the Northern Highlands Terrane of Scotland, has elemental characteristics that are strikingly similar to those of the host Moine metasediments, which are thus consistent with an origin involving major Moine melting. Most of the constituent bodies have compositions significantly removed from minimum melts of pelites, and trace element constraints suggest variable but significant restite entrainment leading to less silicic bulk compositions with enhanced REE, Zr and Y. However, initial Nd and Hf isotope ratios are not coincident with contemporary Moine and imply a significant juvenile contribution. Close association with a regional suite of metabasites prompts consideration of mafic magma input, for which binary mixing models offer qualitative support. Quantitative difficulties with typical Moine metasediments are eased with radiogenic pelites or by partial melting of the mafic component. A possible alternative is currently unexposed Grenvillian felsic crust. Subsequent interaction of the granitic gneisses with meteoric water has significantly perturbed the oxygen and Sr isotope systems, the timing of which is equivocal but probably occurred during Caledonian events. The elemental characteristics of the West Highland Granitic Gneiss show many similarities with Scandinavian (rift-related?) granites of the same age, but since their geochemistry is largely inherited from the protolith it would be unwise to pursue palaeotectonic attribution on this basis. However, the probable incorporation of significant mantle-derived mafic magma of MORB-like affinity is consistent with an extensional setting.