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The end-to-end performance of a general multimedia information retrieval service, operating across a local area network (LAN) using the TCP/IP packet protocols, is evaluated for various message sizes representative of full-color and gray-scale images, and a typical text article. The hardware and software component of the source and user terminals and the total number of users requesting service at one time are taken into account. Several parameters of each component are precisely analyzed using measurements and a decomposition method; these are used in a queuing model for computer simulation. The simulation model is tuned and verified by comparing its results with measurements taken on a laboratory prototype. Then, by varying component parameters in the model and observing the effect on the overall performance, the effects of many critical parameters can be quantified. The model is also used to predict the performance of future systems.