Recent distributed shared memory (DSM) systems and proposed shared-memory machines have implemented some or all of their cache coherence protocols in software. One way to exploit the flexibility of this software is to tailor a coherence protocol to match an application's communication patterns and memory semantics. This paper presents evidence that this approach can lead to large performance improvements. It shows that application-specific protocols substantially improved the performance of three application programs- appbt, em3d, and barnes-over carefully tuned transparent shared memory implementations. The speed-ups were obtained on Blizzard, a fine-grained DSM system running on a 32-node Thinking Machines CM-5