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IEEE 802.11 wireless local area network (WLAN) has become the prevailing solution for wireless Internet access while transport control protocol (TCP) is the dominant transport-layer protocol in the Internet. It is known that, in an infrastructure-based WLAN with multiple stations carrying long-lived TCP flows, the number of TCP stations that are actively contending to access the wireless channel remains very small. Hence, the aggregate TCP throughput is basically independent of the total number of TCP stations. This phenomenon is due to the closed-loop nature of TCP flow control and the bottleneck downlink (i.e., access point-to-station) transmissions in infrastructure-based WLANs. In this paper, we develop a comprehensive analytical model to study TCP dynamics in infrastructure-based 802.11 WLANs. We calculate the average number of active TCP stations and the aggregate TCP throughput using our model for given total number of TCP stations and the maximum TCP receive window size. We find out that the default minimum contention window sizes specified in the standards (i.e., 31 and 15 for 802.11b and 802.11a, respectively) are not optimal in terms of TCP throughput maximization. Via ns-2 simulation, we verify the correctness of our analytical model and study the effects of some of the simplifying assumptions employed in the model. Simulation results show that our model is reasonably accurate, particularly when the wireline delay is small and/or the packet loss rate is low.