A fundamental concept in all syntactic theories is that of a syntactic relation between syntactic objects. While recent work in the Minimalist Framework has attempted to explain the nature of syntactic objects in terms of simple and conceptually necessary assumptions regarding the language faculty, the relations that hold between syntactic objects has not been similarly explored. The authors initiate such an exploration and argue that certain fundamental relations such as c-command, dominance, and checking relations can be explained within a derivational approach to structure-building.This approach has significant consequences concerning the architecture of the syntactic component. Semantic and phonological interpretation need not operate upon the output phrase-structure representation created by the syntactic derivation. Interpretation is more readily computed derivationally, by interpreting the steps of a derivation, rather than the single output structure created by it. The result is a new and controversial level-free model of the syntactic component of the human language faculty. This topical and timely Minimalist analysis will interest professional and theoretical linguists, syntacticians, and anyone interested in contemporary approaches to syntactic theory.