Zircon ion probe (secondary-ion mass spectrometry or SIMS) data from a set of intrusive rocks emplaced in the vicinity of major ore bodies, as well as from large igneous intrusions in the Gällivare area, gave the following results: (1) the Dundret ultramafic–mafic layered complex (1883±5 Ma), the Aitik granite (1883±5 Ma), the Nautanen diorite (1870±12 Ma), the Vassaravaara ultramafic–mafic layered complex (1798±4 Ma), the Aitik dolerite (1813±9 Ma), the Bergmästergruvan and Sikträsk syenites (1795±4 Ma and 1801±3 Ma, respectively) and the Naalojärvi granite (1782±5 Ma). These data broadly fall within the ranges 1.89–1.87 Ga (early Svecofennian) and 1.80–1.78 Ga (late Svecofennian), but geochronologically allow further subdivision into pulses at 1885–1880, 1875–1870, 1800 and 1780 Ma. During these events, large layered ultramafic–mafic and felsic plutonic rocks were generated with distinct overlap in time suggesting coeval felsic–mafic magmatism. Results also indicate the presence of inherited c. 1.87 Ga zircon crystals in the plutonic rocks at 1.78 Ga, supporting reworking of the previous crust. These data indicate the importance of mantle-derived mafic underplating in the process of crustal magma generation in the region. The c. 1.88 Ga event that generated ultramafic–mafic layered complexes is tentatively suggested to have played an important role in the formation of the Aitik Cu–Au porphyry system. The later event at c. 1.80 Ga, generating voluminous mafic–felsic units, is suggested to be coupled to the regional iron-oxide-copper-gold (IOCG) overprint.