The performance of an X-bar chart is usually studied under the assumption that the process standard deviation is well estimated and does not change. This is, of course, not always the case in practice. We find that X-bar charts are not robust against errors in estimating the process standard deviation or changing standard deviation. In this paper we discuss the use of a t chart and an exponentially weighted moving average (EWMA) t chart to monitor the process mean. We determine the optimal control limits for the EWMA t chart and show that this chart has the desired robustness property. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.