We briefly review the hierarchy for the hyper-K\"ahler equations and define a notion of symmetry for solutions of this hierarchy. A four-dimensional hyper-K\"ahler metric admits a hidden symmetry if it embeds into a hierarchy with a symmetry. It is shown that a hyper-K\"ahler metric admits a hidden symmetry if it admits a certain Killing spinor. We show that if the hidden symmetry is tri-holomorphic, then this is equivalent to requiring symmetry along a higher time and the hidden symmetry det...Expand abstract
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Final version. To appear in the August 2003 special issue of JMP on
`Integrability, Topological Solitons, and Beyond'