The problem of secure key distribution has been the subject of much attention in recent years. This paper describes a novel method for authenticated key distribution in the distributed systems environment. In particular, a braiding technique for key distribution is introduced. The underlying protocols are extremely compact in both the number of messages and message sizes, which facilitates their application at any layer (at lower layers, in particular) in the protocol hierarchy. Furthermore, the protocols are shown to be resistant to a wide range of interleaving attacks. All this is achieved with minimal computational requirements, and without the necessity of using traditional encryption (a strong one-way function suffices).