Buffer allocation in serial production lines is one of the important design issues, and hence it has been studied extensively in the literature. In this paper, we analyse the problem to characterise the optimal buffer allocation; specifically, we study the cases with single and multiple bottleneck stations under various experimental conditions. In addition, we develop an efficient heuristic procedure to allocate buffers in serial production lines to maximise throughput. The results of the computational experiments indicate that the proposed algorithm is very efficient in terms of both solution quality and CPU time requirements. Moreover, the characterisation study yields interesting findings that may lead to important practical implications. A comprehensive bibliography is also provided in the paper.