The opening of the Arctic oceanic basins in the Mesozoic and Cenozoic proceeded in steps, with episodes of magmatism and sedimentation marking specific stages in this development. In addition to the stratigraphic record provided by sediments and fossils, the intrusive and extrusive rocks yield important information on this evolution. This study has determined the ages of mafic sills and a felsic tuff in Svalbard and Franz Josef Land using the isotope dilution thermal ionization mass spectrometry (ID-TIMS) U–Pb method on zircon, baddeleyite, titanite and rutile. The results indicate crystallization of the Diabasodden sill at 124.5 ± 0.2 Ma and the Linnévatn sill at 124.7 ± 0.3 Ma, the latter also containing slightly younger secondary titanite with an age of 123.9 ± 0.3 Ma. A bentonite in the Helvetiafjellet Formation, also on Svalbard, has an age of 123.3 ± 0.2 Ma. Zircon in mafic sills intersected by drill cores in Franz Josef Land indicate an age of 122.7 Ma for a thick sill on Severnaya Island and a single grain age of ≥122.2 ± 1.1 Ma for a thinner sill on Nagurskaya Island. These data emphasize the importance and relatively short-lived nature of the Cretaceous magmatic event in the region.