Modern Internet systems have evolved from simple monolithic systems to complex multi-tiered architectures. For these systems, providing good response time performance is crucial for commercial success. In practice, the response-time performance of multi-tiered systems is often degraded by severe synchronization problems, causing jobs to wait for responses from different tiers. Synchronization between different tiers is a complicating factor in the optimal control and analysis of performance. In this paper, we study a generic multi-tier model with synchronization in a queuing-theoretical setting. The system is able to share processing capacity between arriving jobs that need to be sent to other tiers and the responses that have arrived after processing from these tiers. We provide structural results on the optimal resource allocation policy and provide a full characterization of the policy in the framework of Markov decision theory. We also highlight important effects of synchronization in the model. We validate our expressions through extensive experimentations for a wide range of resource configurations. © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.