The geological evolution of the Tibetan plateau is best viewed in a context broader than the India-Eurasia collision zone. After collision about 50 million years ago, crust was shortened in western and central Tibet, while large fragments of lithosphere moved from the collision zone toward areas of trench rollback in the western Pacific and Indonesia. Cessation of rapid Pacific trench migration (~15 to 20 million years ago) coincided with a slowing of fragment extrusion beyond the plateau and probably contributed to the onset of rapid surface uplift and crustal thickening in eastern Tibet. The latter appear to result from rapid eastward flow of the deep crust, probably within crustal channels imaged seismically beneath eastern Tibet. These events mark a transition to the modern structural system that currently accommodates deformation within Tibet.