This article proposes an agent negotiation model for target distribution across a set of geographically dispersed sensors. The key idea is to consider sensors as autonomous agents that negotiate over the division of tasks among them for obtaining better payoffs. The negotiation strategies for agents are established based upon the concept of subgame perfect equilibrium from game theory. Using such negotiation leads to not only superior measuring performance from a global perspective but also possibly balanced allocations of tasks to sensors, benefiting system robustness and survivability. A simulation test and results are given to demonstrate the ability of our approach in improving system security while keeping overall measuring performance near optimal. © 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Int Syst 22: 1251–1269, 2007.