The nonlinear rescaling principle employs monotone and sufficiently smooth functions to transform the constraints and/or the objective function into an equivalent problem, the classical Lagrangian which has important properties on the primal and the dual spaces. The application of the nonlinear rescaling principle to constrained optimization problems leads to a class of modified barrier functions (MBF's) and MBF Methods (MBFM's). Being classical Lagrangians (CL's) for an equivalent problem, the MBF's combine the best properties of the CL's and classical barrier functions (CBF's) but at the same time are free of their most essential deficiencies. Due to the excellent MBF properties, new characteristics of the dual pair convex programming problems have been found and the duality theory for nonconvex constrained optimization has been developed. The MBFM have up to a superlinear rate of convergence and are to the classical barrier functions (CBF's) method as the Multipliers Method for Augmented Lagrangians is to the Classical Penalty Function Method. Based on the dual theory associated with MBF, the method for the simultaneous solution of the dual pair convex programming problems with up to quadratic rates of convergence have been developed. The application of the MBF to linear (LP) and quadratic (QP) programming leads to a new type of multipliers methods which have a much better rate of convergence under lower computational complexity at each step as compared to the CBF methods. The numerical realization of the MBFM leads to the Newton Modified Barrier Method (NMBM). The excellent MBF properties allow us to discover that for any nondegenerate constrained optimization problem, there exists a "hot" start, from which the NMBM has a better rate of convergence, a better complexity bound, and is more stable than the interior point methods, which are based on the classical barrier functions. © 1992 The Mathematical Programming Society, Inc.