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This paper addresses the problem of building scalable semantic overlay networks. Our approach follows the principle of data independence by separating a logical layer, the semantic overlay for managing and mapping data and metadata schemas, from a physical layer consisting of a structured peer-to-peer overlay network for e±cient routing of messages. The physical layer is used to implement various functions at the logical layer, including attribute-based search, schema management and schema mapping management. The separation of a physical from a logical layer allows us to process logical operations in the semantic overlay using di®erent physical execution strategies. In particular we identify iterative and recursive strategies for the traversal of semantic overlay networks as two important alternatives. At the logical layer we support semantic interoperability through schema inheritance and semantic gossiping. Thus our system provides a complete solution to the implementation of semantic overlay networks supporting both scalability and interoperability.