Abstract: New data on the kinetics of dehydration of muscovite + quartz suggest the necessity for a careful treatment of both surface kinetics and diffusion processes in metamorphic reactions. A new model is proposed that illustrates the relative role of diffusion and surface reactions in the overall metamorphic process. The rate law for the reaction at mineral surfaces derived from the experimental data is shown to be probably non-linear and similar to rate laws derived from Monte Carlo calculations. The experimental rate data is then used in a heat flow calculation to model the evolution of the muscovite isograd in the field. The position of the isograd, the temperature oversteps above equilibrium, and the width of ‘reaction zones’ are then analysed as a function of intrusion size and kinetic parameters.