This paper studies mechanisms and policies for supporting HTTP/1.1 persistent connections in cluster-based Web servers that employ content-based request distribution. We present two mechanisms for the efficient, content-based distribution of HTTP/1.1 requests among the back-end nodes of a cluster server. A trace-driven simulation shows that these mechanisms, combined with an extension of the locality-aware request distribution (LARD) policy are effective in yielding scalable performance for HTTP/1.1 requests. We implemented the simpler of these two mechanisms, back-end forwarding. Measurements of this mechanism in connection with extended LARD on a prototype cluster, driven with traces from actual Web servers, confirm the simulation results. The throughput of the prototype is up to four times better than that achieved by conventional weighted round-robin request distribution. In addition, throughput with persistent connections is up to 26% better than without.