To combine the advantages of both stability and optimality-based designs, a single network adaptive critic (SNAC) aided nonlinear dynamic inversion approach is presented in this paper. Here, the gains of a dynamic inversion controller are selected in such a way that the resulting controller behaves very close to a pre-synthesized SNAC controller in the output regulation sense. Because SNAC is based on optimal control theory, it makes the dynamic inversion controller operate nearly optimal. More important, it retains the two major benefits of dynamic inversion, namely (i) a closed-form expression of the controller and (ii) easy scalability to command tracking applications without knowing the reference commands a priori. An extended architecture is also presented in this paper that adapts online to system modeling and inversion errors, as well as reduced control effectiveness, thereby leading to enhanced robustness. The strengths of this hybrid method of applying SNAC to optimize an nonlinear dynamic inversion controller is demonstrated by considering a benchmark problem in robotics, that is, a two-link robotic manipulator system. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.