This dissertation addresses the problem of designing link layer protocols which are flexible enough to accommodate the demands offuture wireless communication systems (FWCS).We show that entire link layer protocols with diverse requirements and responsibilities can be composed out of reconfigurable and reusable components.We demonstrate this by designing and implementinga novel concept termed Flexible Link Layer (FLL) architecture.Through extensive simulations and practical experiments, we evaluate a prototype of the suggested architecture in both fixed-spectrumand dynamic spectrum access (DSA) networks. FWCS are expected to overcome diverse challenges including the continual growthin traffic volume and number of connected devices.Furthermore, they are envisioned to support a widerange of new application requirements and operating conditions.Technology trends, including smart homes, communicating machines, and vehicularnetworks, will not only grow on a scale that once was unimaginable, they will also become the predominant communication paradigm, eventually surpassing today's human-produced network traffic. In order for this to become reality, today's systems have to evolve in many ways.They have to exploit allocated resources in a more efficient and energy-conscious manner.In addition to that, new methods for spectrum access and resource sharingneed to be deployed.Having the diversification of applications and network conditions in mind, flexibility at all layers of a communication system is of paramount importance in order to meet the desired goals. However, traditional communication systems are often designed with specific and distinct applications in mind. Therefore, system designers can tailor communication systems according to fixedrequirements and operating conditions, often resulting in highly optimized but inflexible systems.Among the core problems of such design is the mix of data transfer and management aspects.Such a combination of concerns clearly hinders the reuse and extension of existing protocols. To overcome this problem, the key idea explored in this dissertation is a component-based design to facilitate the development of more flexible and versatile link layer protocols.Specifically, the FLL architecture, suggested in this dissertation, employs a generic, reconfigurable data transfer protocol around which one or more complementary protocols, called link layer applications, are responsible for management-related aspects of the layer. To demonstrate the feasibility of the proposed approach, we have designed andimplemented a prototype of the FLL architecture on the basis ofa reconfigurable software defined radio (SDR) testbed.Employing the SDR prototype as well as computer simulations, thisdissertation describes various experiments used to examine a range of link layerprotocols for both fixed-spectrum and DSA networks. This dissertation firstly outlines the challenges faced by FWCSand describes DSA as a possible technology component for their construction.It then specifies the requirements for future DSA systemsthat provide the basis for our further considerations.We then review the background on link layer protocols, surveyrelated work on the construction of flexible protocol frameworks,and compare a range of actual link layer protocols and algorithms.Based on the results of this analysis, we design, implement, and evaluatethe FLL architecture and a selection of actual link layer protocols. We believe the findings of this dissertation add substantively to the existing literature on link layer protocol design and are valuable for theoreticians and experimentalists alike.