The thermodynamic implications of the first deviations with respect to the classical hydrodynamic behavior in high-frequency, short-wavelength phenomena are examined. The constitutive equations arising from an extended irreversible-thermodynamic formalism taking into account spatial inhomogeneities in the space of state variables are compared with those used in generalized hydrodynamics. The so-called exponential model for the memory function of the transverse-velocity correlation function is derived under the assumptions of extended irreversible thermodynamics only. Furthermore, it is also shown how more complicated memory functions can be derived. The results are carefully analyzed and compared with some microscopic derivations. © 1985 The American Physical Society.