One of the most significant global climatic events in the Cenozoic was the transition from greenhouse to icehouse conditions in Antarctica. Tectonic evolution of the region and gradual cooling at the end of Eocene led to the first appearance of ice sheets at the Eocene/Oligocene boundary (ca. 34 Ma). Here we report geological record of mountain glaciers that preceded major ice sheet formation in Antarctica. A terrestrial, valley-type tillite up to 65 metres thick was revealed between two basaltic lava sequences in the Eocene– Oligocene Point Thomas Formation at Hervé Cove – Breccia Crag in Admiralty Bay, King George Island, South Shetland Islands. K-Ar dating of the lavas suggests the age of the glaciation at 45–41 Ma (Middle Eocene). It is the oldest Cenozoic record of alpine glaciers in West Antarctica, providing insight into the onset of glaciation of the Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetland Islands.