Direct numerical simulation of the Navier–Stokes equations is carried out to investigate the interaction of a conical shock wave with a turbulent boundary layer developing over a flat plate at free-stream Mach number
and Reynolds number
, based on the upstream boundary layer momentum thickness. The shock is generated by a circular cone with half opening angle
. As found in experiments, the wall pressure exhibits a distinctive N-wave signature, with a sharp peak right past the precursor shock generated at the cone apex, followed by an extended zone with favourable pressure gradient, and terminated by the trailing shock associated with recompression in the wake of the cone. The boundary layer behaviour is strongly affected by the imposed pressure gradient. Streaks are suppressed in adverse pressure gradient (APG) zones, but re-form rapidly in downstream favourable pressure gradient (FPG) zones. Three-dimensional mean flow separation is only observed in the first APG region associated with the formation of a horseshoe vortex, whereas the second APG region features an incipient detachment state, with scattered spots of instantaneous reversed flow. As found in canonical geometrically two-dimensional wedge-generated shock–boundary layer interactions, different amplification of the turbulent stress components is observed through the interacting shock system, with approach to an isotropic state in APG regions, and to a two-component anisotropic state in FPG. The general adequacy of the Boussinesq hypothesis is found to predict the spatial organization of the turbulent shear stresses, although different eddy viscosities should be used for each component, as in tensor eddy-viscosity models, or in full Reynolds stress closures.