The paceman is one of several English senior players who have endured wretched summers so far in Australia.
He had only taken seven wickets in the first three Tests.
Then his long-time friend Graeme Swann stunned the sport before the Boxing Day Test by announcing his immediate retirement from international cricket.
On Friday, Anderson responded in the best possible way - with wickets.
He took 3-50 as Australia had their worst day of this Ashes series and slumped to 9-164, a first-innings deficit of 91.
Anderson's only blemish came when he dropped an easy catch off Mitchell Johnson.
But he made up for it by taking a catch to dismiss the same batsman for two.
Anderson claimed the first wicket of the innings, with dangerous opener David Warner caught behind for nine.
Then he produced a great delivery that Australian captain Michael Clarke misjudged completely.
Clarke shouldered arms and was bowled for 10, leaving Australia 3-62.
It left Australia in a hole and they are yet to re-emerge.
A controversial DRS ruling gave Anderson his third wicket, with George Bailey slashing outside off stump and being judged out caught behind for a duck.
It wasn't quite as menacing as Mitchell Johnson's 5-63, but it was just what England needed.