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Software configuration management ( SCM) is an emerging discipline. An important aspect of realizing SCM is the task of maintaining the configurations of evolving software systems. In this paper, we provide an approach to resolving some of the conceptual and technical problems in maintaining configurations of evolving software systems. The approach provides a formal basis for existing notions of system architecture. The formal properties of this view of configurations provide the underpinnings for a rigorous notion of system integrity, and mechanisms to control the evolution of configurations. This approach is embodied in a language, NuMIL, to describe software system configurations, and a prototype environment to maintain software system configurations. We believe that the approach and the prototype environment offer a firm base to maintain software system configurations and, therefore, to implement SCM.