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Distributed application (e.g., grid-enabled application) performance is highly dependent on the information available when computational resources are chosen. A resource selection based on computational resource information complemented with network performance information has the potential to be optimal from the application performance viewpoint. This is particularly true for network-intensive distributed applications. This study proposes a recursive distributed topology discovery service (RD-TDS) that allows grid clients to retrieve network performance information (i.e., IP-level topology and link capacity) without the need of specific administrative privileges. The RD-TDS exploits a selected set of distributed beacons (i.e., measurement points) that recursively probe newly discovered nodes until no undiscovered nodes are found during an exploration step. The RD-TDS simulative and experimental evaluation confirms its expected qualities: a rapid and complete discovery of the network performance information with the utilization of a limited number of active beacons. In addition, the proposed method rationale can be easily applied to many current network exploration tools.