The fundamental hydrodynamic behavior of the Bosphorus Strait is investigated through a numerical modeling study using alternative configurations of idealized or realistic geometry. Strait geometry and basin stratification conditions allow for hydraulic controls and are ideally suited to support the maximal-exchange regime, which determines the rate of exchange of waters originating from the adjacent Black and Mediterranean Seas for a given net transport. Steady-state hydraulic controls are demonstrated by densimetric Froude number calculations under layered flow approximations when corrections are applied to account for high velocity shears typically observed in the Bosphorus. Analyses of the model results reveal many observed features of the strait, including critical transitions at hydraulic controls and dissipation by turbulence and hydraulic jumps. It is found that the solution depends on initialization, especially with respect to the basin initial conditions. Significant differences between the controlled maximal-exchange and drowned solutions suggest that a detailed modeling implementation involving coupling with adjacent basins needs to take full account of the Bosphorus Strait in terms of the physical processes to be resolved.