Much information on processes and circulation within the Arctic Ocean has emerged from measurements made on icebreaker expeditions during the past decade. This article offers a perspective based on these measurements, summarizing new ideas regarding how water masses are formed and how they circulate. Best understood at present is the circulation of the Atlantic Layer and mid-depth waters, to depths of about 1700 m, which move in cyclonic gyres in the four major basins of the Arctic Ocean. New ideas on halocline formation and circulation are directly relevant to concerns regarding changes in ice thickness. The circulation of the halocline water in part mimics that of the underlying Atlantic Layer. A number of large eddies contributing to water mass transport have been observed. The circulation of freshwater from the Pacific Ocean and from river runoff has been better delineated. Circulation within the surface layer resembles the circulation of ice, but is different in several respects. Least understood is the circulation of the deepest waters, though some information is available. Recent observed changes in the surface waters and warm Atlantic Layer have been correlated with the North Atlantic Oscillation. While these changes are dramatic, the qualitative circulation pattern may not have been altered significantly.