This paper considers the lithospheric structure and evolution of the wider Barents–Kara Sea region based on the compilation and integration of geophysical and geological data. Regional transects are constructed at both crustal and lithospheric scales based on the available data and a regional three-dimensional model. The transects, which extend onshore and into the deep oceanic basins, are used to link deep and shallow structures and processes, as well as to link offshore and onshore areas. The study area has been affected by numerous orogenic events in the Precambrian– Cambrian (Timanian), Silurian–Devonian (Caledonian), latest Devonian–earliest Carboniferous (Ellesmerian–Svalbardian), Carboniferous–Permian (Uralian), Late Triassic (Taimyr, Pai Khoi and Novaya Zemlya) and Palaeogene (Spitsbergen -Eurekan). It has also been affected by at least three episodes of regional-scale magmatism, the so-called large igneous provinces: the Siberian Traps (Permian–Triassic transition), the High Arctic Large Igneous Province (Early Cretaceous) and the North Atlantic (Paleocene–Eocene transition). Additional magmatic events occurred in parts of the study area in Devonian and Late Cretaceous times. Within this geological framework, we integrate basin development with regional tectonic events and summarize the stages in basin evolution. We further discuss the timing, causes and implications of basin evolution. Fault activity is related to regional stress regimes and the reactivation of pre-existing basement structures. Regional uplift/subsidence events are discussed in a source-to-sink context and are related to their regional tectonic and palaeogeographical settings.