This paper presents a method for admission control and request scheduling for multiply-tiered e-commerce Web sites, achieving both stable behavior during overload and improved response times. Our method externally observes execution costs of requests online, distinguishing different request types, and performs overload protection and preferential scheduling using relatively simple measurements and a straightforward control mechanism. Unlike previous proposals, which require extensive changes to the server or operating system, our method requires no modifications to the host O.S.,Web server, application server or database. Since our method is external, it can be implemented in a proxy. We present such an implementation, called Gatekeeper, using it with standard software components on the Linux operating system. We evaluate the proxy using the industry standard TPC-W workload generator in a typical three-tiered e-commerce environment. We show consistent performance during overload and throughput increases of up to 10 percent. Response time improves by up to a factor of 14, with only a 15 percent penalty to large jobs.