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Overlay networks have emerged as a powerful and highly flexible method for delivering content. We study how to optimize throughput of large transfers across richly connected, adaptive overlay networks, focusing on the potential of collaborative transfers between peers to supplement ongoing downloads. First, we make the case for an erasure-resilient encoding of the content. Using the digital fountain encoding approach, end hosts can efficiently reconstruct the original content of size n from a subset of any n symbols drawn from a large universe of encoding symbols. Such an approach affords reliability and a substantial degree of application-level flexibility, as it seamlessly accommodates connection migration and parallel transfers while providing resilience to packet loss. However, since the sets of encoding symbols acquired by peers during downloads may overlap substantially, care must be taken to enable them to collaborate effectively. Our main contribution is a collection of useful algorithmic tools for efficient summarization and approximate reconciliation of sets of symbols between pairs of collaborating peers, all of which keep message complexity and computation to a minimum. Through simulations and experiments on a prototype implementation, we demonstrate the performance benefits of our informed content-delivery mechanisms and how they complement existing overlay network architectures.