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We propose a novel general-purpose network traffic monitoring application programming interface (MAPI) for network monitoring applications. Our work builds on a generalized network flow model that we argue is flexible enough to capture emerging application needs, and expressive enough to allow the system to exploit specialized monitoring hardware, where available. We describe an implementation of MAPI using the DAG 4.2 Gigabit Ethernet monitoring card and a commodity Gigabit Ethernet adapter, we present a set of experiments measuring overheads, and we demonstrate potential applications. Our experimental results suggest that MAPI has more expressive power than competing approaches, while at the same time is able to achieve significant performance improvements.