Analysis of abundant plutonic fragments in the voluminous Miocene rhyolitic–basaltic composite ignimbrite P1, the initial felsic cooling unit overlying the basaltic shield on Gran Canaria, helps to solve the problem of bimodal volcanism. Syenogabbros dominate the plutonic suite and provide evidence that magmas of intermediate composition formed abundantly at depth but did not erupt. The entire suite of plutonic fragments comprises (1) pyroxenitic to gabbroic cumulates that directly influenced the liquid line of descent of P1 magmas, (2) gabbro, syenogabbro, syenodiorite and quartz–syenite fragments showing moderate degrees of hydrothermal alteration (chloritization, partial melting), and (3) diverse xenoliths differing significantly in bulk-rock composition and texture from the erupted P1 magmas. The compositions of plutonic series (2) overlap with both bulk-rock and mineral compositions of the erupted magmas, whereas series (1) rocks show lower alkali and silica contents. Compositional variations among the plutonic rocks are compatible with fractional crystallization as the major petrogenetic process, locally modified by magma mixing and selective element contamination. Variations in trace element concentrations of the plutonic rocks, however, are inferred to be the result of evolved interstitial melts penetrating into, or draining out of, crystalline mushes during slow intratelluric solidification. The presence of F-rich amphibole suggests that crystalline mushes were invaded by F-bearing fluids. Overall compositional similarity, and the fact that selective contamination effects are similar, support the interpretation that the series (2) plutonic fragments represent solidified portions of the magmatic system that ultimately produced the erupted P1 magmas. This system extended from the zone of underplating at the mantle–crust boundary through the lower and into the upper crust of Gran Canaria and was roughly vertically zoned in composition as shown by geobarometric calculations.