Maximizing bandwidth utilization and providing performance guarantees, in the context of multimedia networking, are two incompatible goals. Heterogeneity of the multimedia sources calls for effective traffic control schemes to satisfy their diverse Quality of Service (QoS) requirements. These include admission control at connection set up, traffic control at the source ends and efficient scheduling schemes at the switches. The emphasis in this paper is on traffic control at the source end. Most multimedia sources are bursty in nature. Traffic shapers have been mainly studied hitherto from the point of view of their effectiveness in smoothing the burstiness. The Leaky Bucket (LB) scheme, to cite an example, is a mean rate policer smoothing at the token generation rate. Studies on bursty sources show that burstiness promotes statistical multiplexing at the cost of possible congestion. Smoothing, on the other hand, helps in providing guarantees at the cost of utilization. Thus need for a flexible scheme which can provide a reasonable compromise between utilization and performance is imminent. Recent studies have also questioned the suitability of LB for policing real-time traffic due to the excessive delays. We argue for a policy which is less stringent on short term burstiness than the LB. We propose a new traffic shaper which can adjust the burstiness of the input traffic to obtain reasonable bandwidth utilization while maintaining statistical service guarantees. The performance study is conducted in two parts. In the first part, we study the effect of varying the shaper parameters on the input characteristics. In the second part, we dimension our scheme and a LB equivalently and compare the mean and peak rate policing behavior with delay and loss as the performance parameters. Adopting a less stringent attitude towards short term burstiness is shown to result in considerable advantage while policing real-time traffic. Future research possibilities in this topic are explored. © 1996 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.