The federal system of intergovernmental relationships in Germany was greatly affected in the 1990s by the increased importance of transnational rationales and by strong orientations to competitiveness in domestic political discourse. New territorial imperatives have given rise to a variety of innovative institutional approaches to policy‐making, the main focus of which is the need to jointly identify new political arenas and new territorial domains for development policies. The result has been a plurality of highly differentiated experimental approaches to regionalization, challenging nested systems of territorial jurisdictions and consolidated policy styles. German initiatives in ‘experimental regionalism’ are addressed in a perspective that highlights their dimension of institutional coevolution in the framework of emerging multi‐level governance practices at a European level: they are hence not only seen as responses to exogenous factors, but also as outcomes of endogenous factors of innovation and change, related to the need for new forms of political regulation in dealing with intergovernmental policy‐making deadlocks and new ‘local’ claims for representation and mobilization. Building on interpretations of regional governance based on a regulationist‐ and state‐theoretical perspective, elaborated in economic and political geography, recent German approaches to ‘experimental regionalism’ are interpreted as new modes of policy‐making that redefine the state’s role in political‐economic regulation through a dual process involving a reframing of state‐local relationships and a rescaling of territorial policy arenas.