The present study was undertaken with the objective of deriving constraints from available geological and geophysical data for understanding the tectonic setting and processes controlling the evolution of the southern margin of the East European Craton (EEC). The study area includes the inverted southernmost part of the intracratonic Dnieper-Donets Basin (DDB)-Donbas Foldbelt (DF), its southeastern prolongation along the margin of the EEC-the sedimentary succession of the Karpinsky Swell (KS), the southwestern part of the Peri-Caspian Basin (PCB), and the Scythian Plate (SP). These structures are adjacent to a zone, along which the crust was reworked and/or accreted to the EEC since the late Palaeozoic. In the Bouguer gravity field, the southern margin of the EEC is marked by an arc of gravity highs, correlating with uplifted Palaeozoic rocks covered by thin Mesozoic and younger sediments. A three-dimensional (3D) gravity analysis has been carried out to investigate further the crustal structure of this area. The sedimentary succession has been modelled as two heterogeneous layers-Mesozoic-Cenozoic and Palaeozoic-in the analysis. The base of the sedimentary succession (top of the crystalline Precambrian basement) lies at a depth up to 22 km in the PCB and DF-KS areas. The residual gravity field, obtained by subtracting the gravitational effect of the sedimentary succession from the observed gravity field, reveals a distinct elongate zone of positive anomalies along the axis of the DF-KS with amplitudes of 100-140 mGal and an anomaly of 180 mGal in the PCB. These anomalies are interpreted to reflect a heterogeneous lithosphere structure below the supracrustal, sedimentary layers: i.e., Moho topography and/or the existence of high-density material in the crystalline crust and uppermost mantle. Previously published data support the existence of a high-density body in the crystalline crust along the DDB axis, including the DF, caused by an intrusion of mafic and ultramafic rocks during Late Palaeozoic rifting. A reinterpretation of existing Deep Seismic Sounding (DSS) data on a profile crossing the central KS suggests that the nature of a high-velocity/density layer in the lower crust (crust-mantle transition zone) is not the same as that of below the DF. Rather than being a prolongation of the DDB-DF intracratonic rift zone, the present analysis suggests that the KS comprises, at least in part, an accretionary zone between the EEC and the SP formed after the Palaeozoic. © 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.