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The output tracking control problem for nonlinear systems in the presence of both parameter perturbations and external disturbances is studied. Our approach is based on the Takagi-Sugeno (T-S) fuzzy modeling method and a variable structure control (VSC) technique. Therefore, the systems considered are not and need not be in the triangular and parametric strict-feedback form, which are prevalent among adaptive model following control for nonlinear systems, or in the normal form, which pervades almost all existing results in neuro-fuzzy model following control approach. We first study the problem of stabilization of T-S fuzzy systems by using a VSC technique. A method for the design of a switching surface based on linear matrix inequalities is developed and a stabilizing controller based on a reaching law concept in the presence of both parameter perturbations and external disturbances is proposed. Then, the method is extended to design controllers for output tracking of T-S fuzzy nonlinear systems in two cases, i.e. systems which possess the so-called strong passive subsystems and strong stable zero dynamics, respectively. Finally, illustrative examples are presented to demonstrate the whole design procedure from the original nonlinear systems to their fuzzification and finally to the realization of the desired controllers. Simulation results show that the goal of output tracking can be achieved by the proposed controllers.