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This paper describes a novel multipath routing algorithm, Fresnel zone routing (FZR), for wireless ad hoc networks. First, the concept of Fresnel zones in an ad hoc network is introduced to classify intermediate nodes according to their capacity and efficiency for forwarding traffic. Second, multiple paths via different Fresnel zones are constructed efficiently using a hybrid of proactive and on-demand approaches. By dispersing traffic into multiple zones according to network load and congestion conditions, FZR can alleviate congestion at intermediate nodes and achieve better transport layer throughput. The operations of FZR are implemented and verified with discrete-event simulation models. Simulation experiments show that FZR can provide significant performance improvement over existing unipath and multipath routing protocols for both TCP and UDP traffic.