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We develop a detailed approach to study how mobility impacts the performance of reactive mobile ad hoc network routing protocols. In particular, we examine how the statistics of path durations including probability density functions vary with the parameters such as the mobility model, relative speed, number of hops, and radio range. We find that at low speeds, certain mobility models may induce multimodal distributions that reflect the characteristics of the spatial map, mobility constraints and the communicating traffic pattern. However, this paper suggests that at moderate and high velocities the exponential distribution with appropriate parameterizations is a good approximation of the path duration distribution for a range of mobility models. Analytically, we show that the reciprocal of the average path duration has a strong linear relationship with the throughput and overhead of dynamic source routing (DSR), which is also confirmed by simulation results. In addition, we show how the mathematical expression obtained for the path duration distribution can also be used to prove that the nonpropagating cache hit ratio in DSR is independent of velocity for the freeway mobility model. These two case studies illustrate how various aspects of protocol performance can be analyzed with respect to a number of significant parameters including the statistics of link and path durations.