Ages of Cenozoic sedimentary basins yield information that can be used to infer detailed spatial and temporal evolution in the Alpine foreland. The Tertiary deposits of the NW Iberian Peninsula comprise the remains of a broken foreland basin (the West Duero Basin). This work constrains the timing of tectonic fragmentation and the evolution of the western termination of the Alpine Pyrenean–Cantabrian Orogen (NW Iberian Peninsula). The discovery of Issiodoromys cf. minor 1 and Pseudocricetodon in the lower formation of the Tertiary depression of Sarria (the Toral Formation) constrains its age to the late Early Oligocene (MP23–MP25), similar to its age in the El Bierzo depression (MP24–MP25). Sedimentation initiated in the NE of the study area at Oviedo during the Middle Eocene (Bartonian–Early Priabonian MP16–MP17) and migrated towards the west and south during the Early Oligocene. The Toral Formation was deposited in a foreland basin that connected the present day outcrops of the El Bierzo, Sarria and As Pontes Tertiary depressions. The basin was segmented during the westward migration of structural deformation associated with the Orogen, and the subsequent uplift of the Galaico–Leoneses Mountains. The present-day height above reference level of the base of the Toral Formation has been used to quantify Alpine segmentation that took place after Early Oligocene times. Minimum tectonic uplift assessed is 960 m in the Cantabrian Mountains and 1050 m in the Galaico–Leoneses Mountains. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.