Anderson, on the occasion of his 100th cap, started the day four short of passing Sir Ian Botham’s record 383 Test wickets in Antigua.
He moved to 381 with the scalp of Devon Smith, who nicked a fine delivery to Jos Buttler, during an opening spell that saw plenty of the controlled swing bowling that has defined his career.
At tea the West Indies were 84-2, having kept the tourists down to 399 with a much improved bowling effort in the morning.
England resumed on 341-5, but lost their next five wickets for 58.
Anderson scored 20 of those, all in boundaries, but his real business began when England took the field.
He led out the team, in deference to his milestone appearance, and squeezed in two overs before the lunch break.
Anderson moved a couple of gentle looseners into Kraigg Brathwaite before ramping up the pace and looping a vicious inswinger towards the base of the stumps.
Brathwaite kept it out, jabbing down hard, but the battle lines had been drawn.
The left-handed Smith was also given a warning, with Anderson going past the outside edge with a beauty.
Anderson again settled into a groove at the start of the afternoon session before striking with the second ball of his fifth over.
Smith was the victim, nicking in the channel around off stump and sending a regulation catch into Buttler’s gloves.
Anderson threatened to take another, but half-hearted appeals for caught behind and lbw came to nothing.
He was withdrawn after bowling seven overs for nine runs, leaving Chris Jordan and Stuart Broad to share the load.
Jordan, selected ahead of Yorkshire’s Liam Plunkett and Mark Wood, turned in a testing spell and was rewarded with the wicket of Darren Bravo.
He had bowled better deliveries without success, but Bravo withdrew his bat too late and ended up edging tamely to the wicketkeeper.
Brathwaite and Marlon Samuels put on 42, with James Tredwell shelling a tough return catch from the latter on 21.
The day started with West Indies bowling coach Curtly Ambrose giving his charges an impassioned pep talk, the Caribbean great wagging his finger and pumping his fist as he talked.
His words had the desired effect as the pace trio of Jerome Taylor, Kemar Roach and Jason Holder banished their lacklustre showing on the first evening and knocked England over before lunch.
Ben Stokes was the first to fall, adding just eight to his overnight 71 before steering Taylor to gully.
Stokes looked furious, but it remained his second highest Test score and underlined his exceptional potential at No 6.
For England it was the start of a passage that cost them four wickets for the addition of just four runs. Nightwatchman Tredwell nicked Holder to slip, before Roach took out Buttler and Broad for ducks.
Buttler was unusually passive in his 22-ball stay, while Broad’s tame exit continued a worrying downward trend in his batting.
The end of the innings seemed imminent, but Jordan and last man Anderson eked another 38 runs before the end.
Former champions Durham completed a three-day opening LV= County Championship victory, beating Somerset by seven wickets at Taunton.
Chris Rushworth celebrated a 200th first-class wicket on his way to figures of six for 2 as Somerset were dismissed for 230.
Rushworth struck with just the ninth ball of the morning to oust Alex Barrow and also accounted for Jim Allenby and Lewis Gregory before John Hastings removed Tim Groenewald to leave the hosts reeling on 96-8.
It was only thanks to 99-run ninth-wicket partnership from Peter Trego (79) and Abdur Rehman (55 not out) that took Somerset to a respectable 230.
But the visitors lost just three wickets on their way to their victory target of 150, with England international Scott Borthwick backing up his first-innings 94 with an unbeaten 51.
Hampshire kept their game with Surrey alive with a fine all-round display at the Ageas Bowl.
The hosts could only add 11 runs to their overnight 220-9 but Sussex skipper Ed Joyce chose not to enforce the follow-on and may have been regretting that decision after his side were reduced to 71-6, with James Tomlinson taking four wickets.
A stand of 73 from Luke Wright (61) and Ajmal Shahzad (28) helped Sussex reach 164 all out and set a target of 378, but Michael Carberry smashed 79 off 86 balls before falling to Michael Yardy.
Hampshire, 181-4 at the close, need another 197 on the final day, while Sussex require six wickets.
Nottinghamshire need nine wickets on day four at Lord’s, with Middlesex chasing an unlikely 519.
James Taylor struck 61 for the visitors before skipper Chris Read recorded a blistering century off just 76 balls and then declared with his team 401-8.
Middlesex then lost Sam Robson without scoring in response before Nick Compton and Nick Gubbins guided the hosts to 57-1 at stumps.
In Division Two, Northamptonshire need 10 wickets on the final day if they are to begin their bid for an immediate return to Division One with a victory.
David Willey’s maiden first-class hundred, which included six sixes and took just 79 balls, saw Northants post 416-8 in their second innings, giving them a lead of 453 runs over Gloucestershire.
Chris Dent and Will Tavere survived 15 overs before the close and will resume this morning with their side 35 without loss.
Kevin Pietersen’s long-awaited return to domestic cricket ended prematurely as England’s record run-scorer was substituted in the field during Surrey’s match with MCC Universities Oxford.