The Cenozoic basaltic province of the Vogelsberg area is composed of intercalated olivine tholeiitic to quartz tholeiitic and alkalic basaltic rock, mainly nephelinites and basanites (beside differentiated rocks as hawaiites, mugearites, and phonolites). Some of the nephelinites and basanites studied here carry peridotite fragments but nearly all samples have high MgO, Ni, and Cr contents suggesting that they represent near-primary magmas. The inferred source mineralogy for the alkaline rocks is (?) asthenospheric metasomatized garnet peridotite in which the metasomatic phases include amphibole, ilmenite, apatite and minor zircon which are consumed at higher degrees of melting. Phlogopite was perhaps residual. Conventional trace element modelling indicate ca. 5% partial melting and the observed compatible element variations can be explained by limited crystal fractionation of olivine and clinopyroxene. Incompatible trace element abundances and ratios are remarkably similar to those of alkalic basaltic rocks from ocean islands and indicate two different mantle sources, a HIMU-OIB component (St. Helena-type) and an EM I-OIB component (Tristan da Cunha- or Gough-type), demonstrating worldwide comparable sources for alkali basaltic rocks. The contemporaneous olivine tholeiites may be generated by ca. 13% partial melting of a probably less enriched (?) lithospheric spinel peridotite but do not represent near-primary melts. The most mafic olivine tholeiite has comparable trace element characteristics than the least mafic basanite indicating that several trace element characteristics are not strongly disturbed by different but still low degrees of melting and the derivation of both rock types from a homogenous source. Quartz tholeiites have suffered only limited crystal fractionation but have different incompatible trace element characteristics than the alkaline rocks (higher Ba/Nb, La/Nb, Sr/Ce, but lower Ce/Pb, and comparable Ti/Eu). Based on high Ti/Eu and Sr/Ce ratios but low Ce/Pb ratios the existence of an kimberlitic or carbonatitic metasomatzing agens seems to be unlikely. An explanation for the spread of data and the linear trends seen in incompatible trace element ratio graphs of the quartz tholeiites requires the existence of a trace element enriched endmember which is probably influenced by the existence of an ancient subduction-related sediment component. In comparison with previous published models for the generation of Cenozoic volcanic rocks in Germany and Central Europe it appears most likely that upwelling of asthenospheric material results in the generation of primitive alkaline rocks but magma ascent induced melting of overlying heterogenous mantle lithosphere generating a spectrum of olivine tholeiitic rocks which evolved via crystal fractionation to quartz tholeiites.