In recent years, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) industries have taken a great interest in utilizing the benefits of RFID for supply chain management, inventory control and various other applications. This paper proposed an adaptive load balancing technique for RFID middleware systems to meet the demands of scalability and heterogeneity. First, we explored five basic load balancing policies, namely, information policy, job selection policy, transfer policy, initiation policy and location policy. Eighteen load balancing schemes were then proposed for RFID middleware systems that were combinations of various types of the five basic load balancing policies. Our empirical study suggested that these load balancing strategies performed differently under different workload statuses. Finally, an adaptive load balancing strategy was proposed. The load balancing schemes and the proposed adaptive load balancing strategy have been implemented in the RFID Middleware Load Management System (RM-LMS). Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.