Rotor wakes are an important source of loss in axial compressors. The decay rate of a rotor wake is largely due to both mixing (results in loss) and stretching (no loss accrual). Thus, the actual loss associated with rotor wake decay will vary in proportion to the amounts of mixing and stretching involved. This wake stretching process, referred to by Smith (1996) as recovery, is reversible and for a 2-D rotor wake leads to an inviscid reduction of the velocity deficit of the wake. It will be shown that for the rotor/stator spacing typical of core compressors, wake stretching is the dominant wake decay process within the stator with viscous mixing playing only a secondary role. A model for the rotor wake decay process is developed and used to quantify the viscous dissipation effects relative to those of inviscid wake stretching. The model is verified using laser anemometer measurements acquired in the wake of a transonic rotor operated alone and in a stage configuration at near peak efficiency and near stall operating conditions. Results from the wake decay model exhibit good agreement with the experimental data. Data from the model and laser anemometer measurements indicate that rotor wake straining (stretching) is the primary decay process in the stator passage. Some implications of these results on compressor stage design are discussed.