Diabetes is a long-term disease during which the body's production and use of insulin are impaired, causing glucose concentration level to increase in the bloodstream. Regulating blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible leads to a substantial decrease in long-term complications of diabetes. In this paper, an intelligent online feedback-treatment strategy is presented for the control of blood glucose levels in diabetic patients using single network adaptive critic (SNAC) neural networks (which is based on nonlinear optimal control theory). A recently developed mathematical model of the nonlinear dynamics of glucose and insulin interaction in the blood system has been revised and considered for synthesizing the neural network for feedback control. The idea is to replicate the function of pancreatic insulin, i.e. to have a fairly continuous measurement of blood glucose and a situation-dependent insulin injection to the body using an external device. Detailed studies are carried out to analyze the effectiveness of this adaptive critic-based feedback medication strategy. A comparison study with linear quadratic regulator (LQR) theory shows that the proposed nonlinear approach offers some important advantages such as quicker response, avoidance of hypoglycemia problems, etc. Robustness of the proposed approach is also demonstrated from a large number of simulations considering random initial conditions and parametric uncertainties. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.