In this article, a robust adaptive control scheme for robotic manipulators is designed based on the concept of performance index and Lyapunov's second method. Compensators are selected for a given feedback system by using a quadratic performance index. Then the stability of the system is proven based on Lyapunov's method, where a Lyapunov function and its time-derivative are derived from the selected compensators. In the process of stabilization, stability bounds are obtained for disturbances, control gains, adaptation gains, and desired trajectories, in the presence of feedback delay due to digital computation and first-order hold in the control loop. © 1994 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.