In order to study the roles of stress anisotropy and of elasticity in the mechanism of drag reduction by polymer additives we investigate a turbulent pipe ow of a dilute polymer solution. The investigation is carried out by means of direct numerical simulation (DNS) and laser Doppler velocimetry (LDV). In our DNS two di erent models are used to describe the e ects of polymers on the ow. The rst is a constitutive equation based on Batchelor's theory of elongated particles suspended in a Newtonian solvent which models the viscous anisotropic e ects caused by the polymer orientation. The second is an extension of the rst model with an elastic component, and can be interpreted as an anisotropic Maxwell model. The LDV experiments have been carried out in a recirculating pipe ow facility in which we have used a solution of wat! er and 20 w.p.p.m. Super oc A110. Turbulence statistics up to the fourth moment, as well as power spectra of various velocity components, have been measured. The results of the drag-reduced ow are rst compared with those of a standard turbulent pipe ow of water at the same friction velocity at a Reynolds number of Re approx 1035. Next the results of the numerical simulation and of the measurements are compared in order to elucidate the role of polymers in the phenomenon of drag reduction. For the case of the viscous anisotropic polymer model, almost all turbulence statistics and power spectra calculated agree in a qualitative sense with the measurements. The addition of elastic e ects, on the other hand, has an adverse e ect on the drag reduction, i.e. the viscoelastic polymer model shows less drag reduction than the anisotropic model without elasticity. Moreover, for the case of the viscoelastic model not all turbulence statistics show the right behaviour. On the basis of ! these results, we propose that the viscous anisotropic stresses introduced by extended polymers play a key role in the mechanism of drag reduction by polymer additives.