The trajectory tracking problem of a closed-chain five-bar robot is studied in this paper. Based on an error transformation function and the backstepping technique, an approximation-based tracking algorithm is proposed, which can guarantee the control performance of the robotic system in both the stable and transient phases. In particular, the overshoot, settling time, and final tracking error of the robotic system can be all adjusted by properly setting the parameters in the error transformation function. The radial basis function neural network (RBFNN) is used to compensate the complicated nonlinear terms in the closed-loop dynamics of the robotic system. The approximation error of the RBFNN is only required to be bounded, which simplifies the initial “trail-and-error” configuration of the neural network. Illustrative examples are given to verify the theoretical analysis and illustrate the effectiveness of the proposed algorithm. Finally, it is also shown that the proposed approximation-based controller can be simplified by a smart mechanical design of the closed-chain robot, which demonstrates the promise of the integrated design and control philosophy.