I present a developmental account of Aristotle’s concept of hê hylê (usually translated “the matter”), focused the earliest developments. I begin by analyzing fragments of some lost early works and a chapter of the Organon, texts which indicate that early in his career Aristotle had not yet begun to use he hylê in a technical sense. Next, I examine Physics II 3, a chapter in which Aristotle conceives of he hylê not as a kind of cause in its own right, but merely as an example of the so-called “out of which” cause : the material is the cause out of which an artifact is made. Next, I examine Physics II 7, a chapter in which Aristotle names "the material" as one of the four kinds of cause in its own right. But Aristotle’s model of "the material" remains the material out of which an artifact is made.