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Rate control plays a central role in constant bit-rate video coding applications using MPEG-4. This paper considers single-video-object rate control for MPEG-4 and presents a new rate-control algorithm based on the quadratic rate-distortion (R-D) model. The major innovations are a novel constraint for the least-mean-square estimation of the model parameters of the R-D function, a new measure for the encoding complexity, novel quantizer control and an efficient frame skipping strategy. Simulation results show that the MPEG-4 coder, using the proposed algorithm, can achieve a higher PSNR than a coder using the conventional rate-control algorithm.