The rubidium-strontium method has often been used in attempts to date shales, but has yielded mixed results. In order to explore the effects of diagenesis on this system, samples of a Miocene shale section collected from an oil well drilled in coastal Louisiana were separated into fractions and analyzed for Sr 87/Sr 86, Rb and Sr. The diagenetic changes involve the destruction of detrital mica and feldspar and the formation of an illite-rich clay from smectite. Strontium from interstitial waters, calcium carbonate and adsorbed on the clay minerals is released and then sequestered by the newly forming phases, together with the strontium mobilized from the silicate minerals. Attending these changes there is a trend towards the homogenization of the shale with respect to its strontium isotopes, but diagenesis and homogenization are not complete in the deepest part (5523 m) of the section studied. Therefore, the interpretation of rubidium-strontium shale dates remains uncertain, but the dates in many cases most probably represent the time equal to or younger than the time of the major construction of new phases and the attendant homogenization of the strontium isotopes.