The aim of the present paper will be to give a mathematical outline of the theory of tidal evolution in close binary systems of secularly constant total momentum — an evolution activated by viscous friction of dynamical tides raised by the two components on each other. The first section contains a general outline of the problem; and in Section 2 we shall establish the basic expressions for the energy and momenta of close binaries consisting of components of arbitrary internal structure. In Section 3 we shall investigate the maximum and minimum values of the energy (kinetic and potential) which such systems can attain for given amount of total momentum; while in Section 4 we shall compare these results with the actual facts encountered in binaries with components whose internal structure (and, therefore, rotational momenta) are known to us from evidence furnished by the observed rates of apsidal advance. The results show that all such systems — be these of detached or semi-detached type — disclose that more than 99% of their total momenta are stored in the orbital momentum. The sum of the rotational momenta of the constituent components amounts to less than a percent of the total — a situation characteristic of a state close to the minimum energy for given total momentum. This appears, moreover, to be true not only of the systems with both components on the Main Sequence, but also of those possessing evolved components in contact with their Roche limits. Under such conditions, a synchronism between rotation and revolution (characteristic of both extreme states of maximum and minimum energy) is not only possible, but appears to have been actually approached — if not attained — in the majority of cases. In other words, it would appear that — in at least a large majority of known cases — the existing close binaries have already attained orbits of maximum distension consistent with their momenta; and tidal evolution alone can no longer increase the present separations of the components to any appreciable extent. The virtual absence, in the sky, of binary systems intermediate between the stages of maximum and minimum energy for given momentum leads us to conjecture that the process of dynamical evolution activated by viscous tides may enroll on a time-scale which is relatively short in comparison with their total age — even for systems like Y Cygni or AG Persei, whose total age can scarcely exceed 107 yr. A secular increase of the semi-major axes of relative orbits is dynamically coupled with a corresponding variation in the velocity of axial rotation of both components through the ‘tidal lag’ arising from the viscosity of stellar material. The differential equations of so coupled a system are given in Section 5; but their solution still constitutes a task for the future.