A numerical study on the laminar vortex shedding and wake flow due to a porous-wrapped solid circular cylinder has been made in this paper. The cylinder is horizontally placed, and is subjected to a uniform cross flow. The aim is to control the vortex shedding and drag force through a thin porous wrapper around a solid cylinder. The flow field is investigated for a wide range of Reynolds number in the laminar regime. The flow in the porous zone is governed by the Darcy–Brinkman–Forchheimer extended model and the Navier–Stokes equations in the fluid region. A control volume approach is adopted for computation of the governing equations along with a second-order upwind scheme, which is used to discretize the convective terms inside the fluid region. The inclusion of a thin porous wrapper produces a significant reduction in drag and damps the oscillation compared with a solid cylinder. Dependence of Strouhal number and drag coefficient on porous layer thickness at different Reynolds number is analyzed. The dependence of Strouhal number and drag on the permeability of the medium is also examined. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.