4'-n-Pentyl-4-cyanobiphenyl (5CB) is a room temperature nematic liquid crystal with a high positive dielectric anisotropy and a high chemical stability. Many experimental results concerning the elastic and dielectric constants of 5CB are available in the literature, although there is often no satisfactory agreement between the experimental data obtained by different groups. especially as far as the dielectric constants are concerned. Furthermore. no detailed investigation of the temperature dependence of the elastic and dielectric constants close to the nematic-isotropic transition temperature T-NI has yet been reported. in this paper. we report the measurement of the elastic and dielectric constants of 5CB, and the temperature behaviour close to T-NI has been investigated in detail. The experiment consists in the measurement of the director deformation induced by an electric field using simultaneously both a dielectric and an optical method. The simultaneous use of these two methods provides an indirect check on the reliability of the measurements. Special attention has been devoted to control possible sources of uncertainty. In particular, the effects of finite anchoring energy and of finite pretilt angle have been considered. The temperature dependence of the anisotropy of the refractive indices is also obtained in the experiment.