Our work investigates the precipitation mechanism of a seeded calcium carbonate reaction, by using cryogenic TEM to observe the early stages of the reaction. The early precipitation of a hydrated phase is proposed as an intermediate phase before transformation into calcite. Thermodynamic modeling in conjunction with pH, surface potential measurements, and colloidal stability modeling demonstrate that calcite growth is dominated by agglomeration. This is in agreement with the cryogenic TEM observations, which suggest oriented attachment dominates early aggregation. The final stage of the reaction is described by a ripening mechanism that is significantly inhibited when high concentrations of polyacrylic acid (PAA) are used. The different concentrations of PAA lead to significant differences in the final particle substructure observed using cross section TEM. At low PAA concentrations, single crystal particles result, coherent with the proposed early oriented attachment mechanism and interfacial energy calculations. A core shell model is proposed for high PAA concentrations, whereas internal ripening of nanosized pores has been observed for low PAA concentrations, suggesting trapped solvent during the rapid initial particle formation at the relatively high supersaturations (S ) 30) investigated.