Cenozoic tropical carbonate sedimentation was strongly influenced by local and regional tectonics in SE Asia. This paper outlines the evolution of the syntectonic Eocene to middle Miocene Tonasa Formation of South Sulawesi, evaluating controls on sedimentation, facies distribution and sequence development. Development of a facies model for this Cenozoic tropical carbonate platform provides a meaningful analogue for similar, less well-studied SE Asian carbonates, which commonly comprise targets for hydrocarbon exploration. This study also has considerable implications for the study of syntectonic carbonates, controls on carbonate sedimentation, carbonate platform development in backarc areas and SE Asian tectonics. Detailed facies mapping, logging, petrographic and biostratigraphic analyses indicate that the Tonasa Formation was deposited initially as part of a transgressive sequence in a backarc setting. By late Eocene times, shallow-water carbonates were being deposited over much of South Sulawesi forming a widespread (100-km long) platform area. Shallow-water sedimentation continued unabated in some areas of the platform until the middle Miocene. Elsewhere, active normal faulting resulted in fault-block platforms, with local subaerial exposure of footwall blocks and the formation of basinal graben in adjacent hangingwall areas. Platform-top facies were aggradational and dominated by larger benthic foraminifera. Low-angle slopes, particularly hangingwall dip slopes, were characterized by the development of ramps. Faults, controlled in part by pre-existing structures, were periodically active and formed steep escarpment margins. Variable regional subsidence strongly influenced the development of the Tonasa Carbonate Platform, whereas platform-wide effects caused by regional eustacy have not been identified. Computer modelling of the Tonasa Platform confirms that the accommodation space and sedimentary geometries observed can be produced by block faulting and regional subsidence alone. Modelling also reveals that regional subsidence and extension, oblique to the main stretching direction, were low on the margins of the backarc basin. Shallow-water accumulation rates for this foraminifera-dominated tropical carbonate platform were an order of magnitude lower than those for modern warm-water platforms dominated by corals or ooids.