The elastic and anelastic behaviours of polycrystalline YBa 2Cu 3O x specimens have been studied between 80 and 300 K, by means of a resonant bar technique. Three damping peaks have been observed at 90, 115 and 220 K. The stability of these peaks during annealing in vacuum has been carefully examined. The 90 K peak is not related to the superconducting transition because it is still observed after thermal treatments leading to the disappearance of superconductivity. The 115 K is due to a relaxation mechanism. The activation energy is ∼0.17 eV and the frequency factor is ∼10 12s -1. Also this peak is certainly correlated with the excess oxygen atoms, because it disappears with annealing in vacuum. The 220 K maximum, which was also observed by ultrasonic measurements, seems to be affected by the sample preparation, i.e. by the sintering conditions. Finally, a frequency hysteresis has been observed in every superconducting sample, which accounts for an anomalous behaviour of the elastic modulus.