The drag coefficient for long-slender structures that is typically provided in design guidance has been determined from test specimens of sufficient length that they are unaffected by the aspect ratio (L/D), whereby they are considered to be of “infinite” length. However, it is apparent from the literature that aspect ratio does have a significant non-linear effect at short L/D ratios. DNV provides guidance on the aspect ratio effect on the drag coefficient of a cylinder, for which no experimental source data has been cited. The DNV design guidance has wide usage in the offshore industry and merits critical evaluation. This paper critically reviews the literature and presents the results of a series of tow tank experiments performed by the authors. A series of tow tank tests of a surface-piercing cylinder has been undertaken using a range of aspect ratios as well as testing the effect of various end conditions, where the effects of VIV and ventilation has been deemed insignificant. Correlation of the various data sets of the literature and the experimental test programme provides the basis for developing an alternate design guidance curve for the effect of aspect ratio on the drag coefficient of cylinders.