In this paper, we present Composite Key Management, a novel paradigm for key management in ad hoc networks. While most existing approaches try to fit techniques developed for wired environments into ad hoc networks, our approach works within the specific limitations of ad hoc networks to increase security and availability of the key management framework. By composing techniques from PKI and certificate chaining, composite key management follows two fundamental principles that must be satisfied by an ad hoc key management framework: node participation and the use of a trusted third party. We introduce enhanced metrics of authentication to aid end users in understanding and using the key management framework. Through simulation studies, we demonstrate the effectiveness of composite key management under stressful scenarios where previous approaches fail and show that composite key management can address the challenges posed by the unique nature of ad hoc networks.