Historically, functional hyperemia has been viewed largely as an interaction between a parenchymal cell and its associated microvasculature. Locally released metabolites have been thought to produce relaxation of the smooth muscle and a vasodilation that increases blood flow in proportion to metabolic need. This symposium report presents evidence from a variety of disciplines and a number of different types of biological preparations that demonstrates that functional hyperemia is a complex process involving several classes of microvessels including capillaries, arterioles, and small arteries. These vessels do not function independently but are coordinated by a complex set of interrelations involving at least three different modes of interaction between parenchymal cells and the various segments of the vascular bed. These are local metabolic effects, propagated effects extending over long segments of the vasculature, and flow-dependent vasodilation induced by local changes in blood flow. In addition to these acute responses to metabolic demand it appears that tissues may be capable of more long-term structural alterations of the arterial and arteriolar network in response to sustained changes in the relationship between supply and demand. The vascular bed appears to be able to adapt either by increasing the maximal anatomic diameter of the large arteries or by inserting new arterioles into the parenchyma. Thus, classical functional hyperemia appears to be but one manifestation of a multifaceted process leading to highly coordinated responses of many vascular elements, resulting finally in vascular patterns that are optimized to meet parenchymal cell demands.