The rationale for most field studies of the positional behavior of arboreal primates has been the need to document natural behaviors quantitatively in order to infer the functional significance of morphological configurations. This focus on interactions of morphology with behavior is justifiable, but there exists another important level of biological relationships, that of the animal with its structural habitat, which it must negotiate to find food and avoid being preyed on. Recently it has become apparent that body size is likely to affect relationships of positional behavior with habitat structure, as well as with morphology. Here I offer a framework for research on functional relationships of positional behavior, body size, and habitat structure, with the ultimate objective of elucidating the aptive significance of the great diversity exhibited by arboreal primates. This approach specifies several distinct problems that animals solve, and indicates how research might be directed at revealing the relative effectiveness with which different primates solve them. A preliminary application of the framework examines sympatric north Sumatran primates. © 1992 Wiley-Liss, Inc.