Abstract This study investigates the petrogenesis of Pliocene−Quaternary andesites, dacites and rhyolites of the island of Kos. These volcanic rocks differ from other volcanic centres in the South Aegean arc in the narrow range of Pliocene volcanic products, the abundance of high-silica rhyolite, the lower ε Nd for a given Sr isotope composition, and greater depth to the subducting slab. Pliocene and early Pleistocene dacite stocks and rhyolite domes are succeeded by younger tuffs, notably the 0.16 Ma Kos Plateau Tuff derived from a super-eruption of an andesite stratocone now subsided beneath the sea south of Kos. Volcanic products in tuffs have been sampled from lithic clasts. Andesite, dacite and rhyolite all have ε Nd ∼+ 1.5 to −1.5 and 86Sr/ 87Sr ∼ 0.7042; this unusual composition is argued to be the result of subduction of sediments derived from the River Nile. All rock types show structures indicative of widespread magma mixing, including complexly zoned plagioclase, clinopyroxene and amphibole containing glass inclusions of trachyte and rhyolite compositions. The observed rocks result from fractionation and mixing of three principal magma types: (a) calc-alkaline high-Al basalt that fractionated to andesite at the base of crust; (b) partially melted metabasaltic amphibolite underplated at the base of crust, that fractionated to produce high-SiO 2 rhyolite; and (c) a minor component of trachytic magma from partial melting of enriched subcontinental lithospheric mantle. The complexly zoned phenocrysts with glass inclusions provide specific evidence for mixing of these three components. Specifically, it was the emplacement of the andesite into a voluminous rhyolite magma in a mid-crustal magma chamber that led to the explosive Kos Plateau Tuff super-eruption.