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When aiming to understand object-oriented distributed applications, reverse engineering processes can model the systems by representing the aspects specific to the object orientation. While these representations provide means for in-depth analysis of various characteristics of the applications, such approaches may ignore their most important traits, specifically those related to the distribution itself. This paper describes the representation of object-oriented distributed systems we have developed to support our reverse engineering approach, and presents the rationale behind the model. The model is built so that the process focuses on the most important aspects of this class of applications, therefore efficiently achieving system understanding by narrowing the search for relevant knowledge. We have applied the process on a couple of case studies, and evaluated the systems by instantiating the model to drive the assessment of the distribution-related characteristics.