This paper presents ABS, an abstract behavioral specification language for designing executable models of distributed object-oriented systems. The language combines advanced concurrency and synchronization mechanisms for concurrent object groups with a functional language for modeling data. ABS uses asynchronous method calls, interfaces for encapsulation, and cooperative scheduling of method activations inside concurrent objects. This feature combination results in a concurrent object-oriented model which is inherently compositional. We discuss central design issues for ABS and formalize the type system and semantics of Core ABS, a calculus with the main features of ABS. For Core ABS, we prove a subject reduction property which shows that well-typedness is preserved during execution; in particular, “method not understood” errors do not occur at runtime for well-typed ABS models. Finally, we briefly discuss the tool support developed for ABS.