Abstract Syn-eruptive degassing of volcanoes may lead to syn-eruptive crystallization of groundmass phases. We have investigated this process using textural and compositional analysis of dome material from Merapi volcano, Central Java, Indonesia. Samples included dome lavas from the 1986–88, 1992–93, 1994 and 1995 effusive periods as well as pyroclastic material deposited by the November 1994 dome collapse. With total crystallinities commonly in excess of 70% (phenocrysts+microlites), the liquids present in Merapi andesites are highly evolved (rhyolitic) at the time of eruption. Feldspar microlites in dome rocks consist of plagioclase cores (Ab 63An 29Or 8) surrounded by alkali feldspar rims (Ab 53An 5Or 42), compositional pairs which are not in equilibrium. A change in the phase relations of the ternary feldspar system caused by degassing best explains the observed transition in feldspar composition. A small proportion of highly vesicular airfall tephra grains from the 1994 collapse have less evolved glass compositions than typical dome material and contain rimless plagioclase microlites, suggesting that the 1994 collapse event incorporated less-degassed, partially liquid magma in addition to fully solidified dome rock. As decompression drives volatile exsolution, rates of degassing and resultant microlite crystallization may be governed by magma ascent rate. Microlite crystallinity is nearly identical among the 1995 dome samples, an indication that similar microlite growth conditions ( P H 2O and temperature) were achieved throughout this extrusive period. However, microlite number density varied by more than a factor of four in these samples, and generally increased with distance from the vent. Low vent-ward microlite number densities and greater microlite concentrations down-flow probably reflect progressively decreasing rates of undercooling at the time of crystal nucleation during extrusion of the 1995 dome. Comparison between dome extrusion episodes indicates a correlation between lava effusion rate and microlite number density, suggesting that extrusion slowed during 1995. Crystal textures and compositions in the 1992–93 and 1994 domes share the range exhibited by the 1995 dome, suggesting that transitions in crystallization conditions (i.e., rates of undercooling determined by effusion rate) are cyclic.