Ultrahigh-pressure (UHP) metamorphic terranes reflect subduction of continental crust to depths of 90-140 km in Phanerozoic contractional orogens. Rocks are intensely overprinted by lower pressure mineral assemblages; traces of relict UHP phases are preserved only under kinetically inhibiting circumstances. Most UHP complexes present in the upper crust are thin, imbricate sheets consisting chiefly of felsic units ± serpentinites; dense mafic and peridotitic rocks make up less than ̃ 10% of each exhumed subduction complex. Roundtrip prograde-retrograde P- T paths are completed in 10-20 Myr, and rates of ascent to mid-crustal levels approximate descent velocities. Late-stage domical uplifts typify many UHP complexes. Sialic crust may be deeply subducted, reflecting profound underflow of an oceanic plate prior to collisional suturing. Exhumation involves decompression through the P- T stability fields of lower pressure metamorphic facies. Scattered UHP relics are retained in strong, refractory, watertight host minerals (e.g., zircon, pyroxene, garnet) typified by low rates of intracrystalline diffusion. Isolation of such inclusions from the recrystallizing rock matrix impedes back reaction. Thin-aspect ratio, ductile-deformed nappes are formed in the subduction zone; heat is conducted away from UHP complexes as they rise along the subduction channel. The low aggregate density of continental crust is much less than that of the mantle it displaces during underflow; its rapid ascent to mid-crustal levels is driven by buoyancy. Return to shallow levels does not require removal of the overlying mantle wedge. Late-stage underplating, structural contraction, tectonic aneurysms and/or plate shallowing convey mid-crustal UHP décollements surfaceward in domical uplifts where they are exposed by erosion. Unless these situations are mutually satisfied, UHP complexes are completely transformed to low-pressure assemblages, obliterating all evidence of profound subduction.