We use liquid crystal polarized light imaging to record the life histories of single kinetochore (K-) fibers in living crane-fly spermatocytes, from their origins as nascent K-fibers in early prometaphase to their fully matured form at metaphase, just before anaphase onset. Increased image brightness due to increased retardance reveals where microtubules are added during K-fiber formation. Analysis of experimentally generated bipolar spindles with only one centrosome, as well as of regular, bicentrosomal spindles, reveals that microtubule addition occurs at the kinetochore-proximal ends of K-fibers, and added polymer expands poleward, giving rise to the robust K-fibers of metaphase cells. These results are not compatible with a model for K-fiber formation in which microtubules are added to nascent fibers solely by repetitive "search and capture" of centrosomal microtubule plus ends. Our interpretation is that capture of centrosomal microtubules-when deployed-is limited to early stages in establishment of nascent K-fibers, which then mature through kinetochore-driven outgrowth. When kinetochore capture of centrosomal microtubules is not used, the polar ends of K-fibers grow outward from their kinetochores and usually converge to make a centrosome-free pole.