The central Menderes Massif (western Turkey) is characterized by an overall dome-shaped Alpine foliation pattern and a N-NNE-trending stretching lineation. A section through the southern flank of the central submassif along the northern margin of Büyük Menderes graben has been studied. There, asymmetric non-coaxial fabrics indicate that the submassif has experienced two distinct phases of Alpine deformation: a top-to-the N-NNE contractional phase and a top-to-the S-SSW extensional event. The former fabrics are coeval with a regional prograde Barrovian-type metamorphism at greenschist to upper-amphibolite facies conditions. This event, known as the main Menderes metamorphism, is thought to be the result of internal imbrication of the Menderes Massif rocks along south-verging thrust sheets during the collision of the Sakarya continent in the north and the Anatolide-Tauride platform in the south across the İzmir-Ankara suture during the (?)Palaeocene-Eocene. Top-to-the S-SSW fabrics, represented by a well-developed ductile shear band foliation associated with inclined and/or curved foliation, asymmetric boudins, and cataclasites, were clearly superimposed on earlier contractional fabrics. These fabrics are interpreted to be related to a low-grade (greenschist?) retrogressive metamorphism and a continuum of deformation from ductile to brittle in the footwall rocks of a south-dipping, presently low-angle normal fault that accompanied Early Miocene orogenic collapse and continental extension in western Turkey. A similar tectono-metamorphic history has been documented for the northern flank of the dome along the southern margin of the Gediz graben with top-to-the N-NNE extensional fabrics. The exhumation of the central Menderes Massif can therefore be attributed to a model of symmetric gravity collapse of the previously thickened crust in the submassif area. The central submassif is thus interpreted as a piece of ductile lower-middle crust that was exhumed along two normal-sense shear zones with opposing vergence and may be regarded as a typical symmetrical metamorphic core complex. These relationships are consistent with previous models that the Miocene exhumation of the Menderes Massif and Cycladic Massif in the Aegean Sea was a result of bivergent extension.