As an example of microstructural and magnetic fabric evolution, and geochemistry of mafic dykes during a subsequent orogenic overprint, a major Mesoproterozoic dyke complex in Scandinavia, the Västerbotten complex of the Central Scandinavian Dolerite Group, is traced westwards into the crystalline nappes of the early Phanerozoic Caledonian orogen. Using geophysical, field, microscopic, magnetic and geochemical information, dykes and sills are characterized, and their overprint during Caledonian orogeny documented. The Västerbotten complex is composed of sets of dykes, trending NE–SW, NW–SE and WNW–ESE, respectively. Similar dykes are exposed in allochthonous positions (Lower and Middle allochthons) in the Caledonian fold-and-thrust belt. The autochthonous dykes are generally undeformed and retain both their primary texture and mineralogy. Chilled margins are well preserved. In the Caledonian Lower and Middle allochthons, similar dykes in crystalline basement rocks are progressively faulted and sheared when proceeding from the marginal to the interior parts of the orogen. Dyke margins are more likely to be sheared than the interior parts of dykes. In the Lower Allochthon, under very low- and low-grade metamorphic conditions, dykes are distinctly less competent than granitic host rocks. Thick dykes are more competent than gneisses; thin dykes do not show such competence contrasts. In the Middle Allochthon, metre-scale dykes with patches of altered plagioclase phenocrysts can still be discerned in low-strain domains. Highly sheared dykes are drawn out to thin layers of centimetre thickness. Dykes are deformed together with the crystalline country rocks under greenschist-grade metamorphic conditions without major competence contrasts. Magnetic fabrics show an evolution similar to the silicate mineral fabrics. The magnetic fabrics in the dykes are transformed successively from ferromagnetic–magmatic in the Autochthon to ferromagnetic deformational in the Lower Allochthon and, finally, paramagnetic deformational in the Middle Allochthon. As a consequence, the magnetic susceptibility decreases for several orders of magnitude. Geochemically, the dykes are dominantly sub-alkaline basalts typical for continental tholeiites and can be distinguished from the Neoproterozoic dykes in the Särv-Nappe equivalents (highest part of the Middle Allochthon), which show a more MORB-like (E-MORB) magmatic signature. Preliminary age information from a dyke in the Lower Allochthon of the Børgefjell area and the Middle Allochthon is consistent with the assumption that these dykes are time equivalent with the Central Scandinavian Dolerite Group. Therefore, the studied dykes may represent an extension of the Västerbotten complex or a new complex of the Central Scandinavian Dolerite Group. According to section restorations, the Caledonian allochthons were situated further WNW relative to their present position, and, originally, the mafic dykes cut across all of the Fennoscandian lithosphere, at least to the present Atlantic margin and the earlier passive margin of the Baltica terrane. As a consequence, these dykes may provide a link for pre-Caledonian and pre-Grenvillian plate reconstructions.