The HKB model for rhythmic interlimb coordination has highlighted the importance of coordinative stability and loss of stability, and introduced, with this focus, a new set of explanatory constructs. However, the phenomenological character of both parts of this model (i.e., the potential and the associated system of coupled oscillators) precludes an understanding of how the observed stability characteristics are related to more specific (e.g., biomechanical and neurophysiological) aspects of the movement system. A two-tiered model (involving a distinction between 'neural' and 'effector' dynamics) is discussed that offers handles for addressing such underpinnings of the identified coordination dynamics. The promise of the model in this regard is illustrated by two recent studies showing how explicit accounts of the effector dynamics may help disclose why (and how) particular properties of the peripheral system affect the overall coordination dynamics. © 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.