Networks of workstations are a dominant force in the distributed computing arena, due primarily to the excellent price/performance ratio of such systems when compared to traditionally massively parallel architectures. It is therefore critical to develop programming languages and environments that can help harness the raw computational power available on these systems. In this article, we present JavaNOW (Java on Networks of Workstations), a Java‐based framework for parallel programming on networks of workstations. It creates a virtual parallel machine similar to the MPI (Message Passing Interface) model, and provides distributed associative shared memory similar to the Linda memory model but with a richer set of primitive operations. JavaNOW provides a simple yet powerful framework for performing computation on networks of workstations. In addition to the Linda memory model, it provides for shared objects, implicit multithreading, implicit synchronization, object dataflow, and collective communications similar to those defined in MPI. JavaNOW is also a component of the Computational Neighborhood, a Java‐enabled suite of services for desktop computational sharing. The intent of JavaNOW is to present an environment for parallel computing that is both expressive and reliable and ultimately can deliver good to excellent performance. As JavaNOW is a work in progress, this article emphasizes the expressive potential of the JavaNOW environment and presents preliminary performance results only.