High energy consumption remains a key challenge for the widely used ring spinning system. Tackling this challenge requires a full understanding of the various factors that contribute to yarn tension and energy consumption during ring spinning. In this paper, we report our recent experimental and theoretical research on air drag, yarn tension and energy consumption in ring spinning. A specially constructed rig was used to simulate the ring spinning process; and yarn tension at the guide-eye was measured for different yarns under different conditions. The effect of yarn hairiness on the air drag acting on a rotating yarn package and on a ballooning yarn was examined. Models of the power requirements for overcoming the air drag, increasing the kinetic energy of the yarn package (bobbin and wound yarn) and overcoming the yarn wind-on tension were developed. The ratio of energy-consumption to yarn-production over a full yarn package was discussed. A program to simulate yarn winding in ring spinning was implemented, which can generate the balloon shape and predict yarn tension under a given spinning condition. The simulation results were verified with experimental results obtained from spinning cotton and wool yarns.