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We have combined shipboard and Seasat altimeter derived data in an intergrated geological and geophysical study of the Louisville Ridge; a 3500‐km‐long seamount chain extending from the Tonga trench to the Eltanin Fracture Zone. A break in the smooth trend of the ridge at latitude 37.5°S has been recognized in both bathymetric and altimetric data. The 40Ar‐39Ar dating of rocks dredged either side of the break suggest that it is analogous to the bend in the Hawaiian‐Emperor seamount chain. Although the general trend of the ridge can be fit by small circles about Pacific absolute motion poles determined from other seamount chains, the new bathymetric and age data allow us to refine Pacific absolute motion poles. The continuity in smooth trend of the ridge and the Eltanin Fracture Zone suggests some relationship between them. However, a major offset developed on this transform between 60 and 80 Ma, prior to the oldest dated rocks from the ridge. Although magmatism was more or less continuous on the ridge during 28–60 Ma, it probably occurred on crust with little or no offset. Thus magmatism appears to have been little influenced by the developing fracture zone. By 28 Ma, the distance between the magmatic source and the fracture zone had decreased sufficiently for a portion of the ridge to have been emplaced on crust with an offset. After about 12 Ma, however, volcanic activity on the Louisville Ridge apparently waned, despite a possible influence on the magmatism of the fracture zone.