We study gas flows with any finite number of thermal nonequilibrium modes. The equations describing such flows are a hyperbolic system with several relaxation equations. An important feature is entropy increase dictated by physics for any irreversible process. Under physical assumptions we obtain properties of thermodynamic variables relevant to stability. By the energy method we prove global existence and uniqueness for the Cauchy problem when the initial data are small perturbations of constant equilibrium states. We give a precise formulation of the fundamental solution for the linearized system, and use it to obtain large time behavior of solutions to the nonlinear system. In particular, we show that the entropy increases but stays bounded. The resulting asymptotic picture of nonequilibrium flows is in a pointwise sense both in space and in time. © Springer-Verlag (2009).