The Bogota Peninsula shear zone in New Caledonia (southwest Pacific Ocean) is the exhumed mantle section of an oceanic transform zone. Ductile fabrics in this zone formed at temperatures >820 °C, and differential stresses estimated from microstructures vary spatially and temporally. Along a transform-perpendicular transect, stresses increase toward the high-strain areas. We attribute this stress gradient to an increase in strain rate caused by imposed rather than intrinsic strain localization. Temporal stress variations are indicated by the formation of fine-grained microdeformation zones (MDZs) that truncate and offset coarser grains. We interpret the MDZs to result from zones of brittle deformation caused by earthquake fracture propagation downward in the upper mantle, which are in turn overprinted by ductile deformation at stresses 2–6 times higher (22–81 MPa) than their surrounding steady-state fabrics. We interpret the spatial and temporal variations in microstructures and stresses as reflecting different stages of the seismic cycle in oceanic lithosphere.