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In this paper, we are concerned with robust H.264/AVC video transmission over lossy packet networks and present a hierarchical unequal packet loss protection (HULP) scheme in a transmission system that efficiently combines erasure coding, H.264/AVC error resilience techniques and importance measures in video coding schemes. The importance of the video stream packets is distinguished by three criteria: the frame sequence number in a group of pictures (GOP), the per-frame bitrate and the H.264/AVC data partition type. Using a fixed amount of redundancy, more important packets of a video stream are protected with a more powerful erasure code than the less important packets. We demonstrate the effectiveness of this approach by system implementation and performance evaluation. In the presence of packet loss, we show that the received video quality, as measured by PSNR, is significantly improved when the HULP scheme is used. More importantly, in our experiments, HULP can achieve higher PSNR values and better user perceived quality, but requiring less redundancy, than equal loss protection (ELP) schemes.