The andesitic volcano Ngauruhoe, which is located within the Tongariro Volcanic Complex at the southern end of the Taupo Volcanic Zone in North Island, New Zealand, has been constructed over the past 5 ka and last erupted in 1975. Nearby Ruapehu volcano has a much longer eruptive history extending back beyond 230 ka B.P. The magmas erupted at both volcanoes have been predominantly medium-K basaltic andesites and andesites, which evolved through polybaric crystal fractionation and assimilation processes that took place within complex, dispersed magmatic storage systems. Despite their close spatial proximity, the two volcanoes show geochemical contrasts suggesting that in each case both the mantle-derived parental magmas and the crustal assimilants were different. Variations in major and trace element data for Ngauruhoe lavas indicate control by crystal fractionation and assimilation (AFC) but the data are difficult to reconcile with derivation from a single batch of compositionally unique, mantle-derived parental basalt. Geochemical variation can be approximated by generalised AFC models using average basement or crustal xenolith compositions but precise mathematical modelling is limited because of the sensitivity of models to the selection of a particular parental composition and the difficulty of determining the exact nature of the crustal assimilant compositions that might have been involved in each specific case. U–Th isotopic data for Ngauruhoe volcanic rocks show disequilibrium that defines a positively inclined array lying to the right of the equiline on a ²³⁰Th/²³²Th versus ²³⁸U/²³²Th diagram. U-series data for Ngauruhoe and post 1945 AD Ruapehu eruptives show similar patterns of disequilibrium but the Ngauruhoe data define an array with a different slope and a different intercept on the equiline. ²³⁰Th/²³⁸U ratios in Ngauruhoe lavas range from close to secular equilibrium (0.979) to 0.864 with the youngest (post 1870 AD) eruptives showing the least disequilibrium. ²³⁰Th/²³⁸U and ⁸⁷Sr/⁸⁶Sr ratios are correlated; the samples with the highest ⁸⁷Sr/⁸⁶Sr values show the least disequilibrium. There is also a correlation between eruption age and Nd and Pb isotopic composition; the oldest samples tend to show the least radiogenic isotopic ratios. These data, in combination with major and trace element abundance data indicate that Ngauruhoe U–Th disequilibrium is determined by variations in parental magmatic compositions and AFC. Unlike the mature, long-lived Ruapehu system, Ngauruhoe's eruptive cycles can be directly connected to periodic magma recharge from the lower crust and mantle. For Ngauruhoe eruptives, ²²⁶Ra/²³⁰Th varies from 1.218 to 1.492. This compares with a range of 0.972 to 1.186 for Ruapehu lavas erupted between 1945 and 1996. Reconciling the ²²⁶Ra/²³⁰Th data with decay during fractional crystallisation requires relatively low rates of fractionation (1–5 × 10− 5/year) and short (1000–2000 years) fractionation times. Research Highlights U-series isotopic disequilibrium in Ngauruhoe lavas is strongly influenced by AFC. The local basement rocks are representative of the crustal contaminant. Magmatic cycles at Ngauruhoe were initiated by period influxes of new magma. Ra isotopic data provides timescales for magmatic processes at Ngauruhoe.