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A supervisory adaptive controller has been designed for the closed-loop control of mean arterial pressure during cardiac surgery, using sodium nitroprusside. This controller consists of a pole-placement and proportional-plus-integral feedback regulator, multiple-model adaptation, and a supervisor. The pole-placement and proportional-plus-integral regulator was designed to meet aggressive step response characteristics. Multiple-model adaptation was chosen to ensure rapid and stable adjustments for changes in key patient parameters. The supervisor was designed to provide safety and efficacy of control during disturbances that are common during cardiac surgery. The authors studied the ability of this supervisory adaptive controller to regulate arterial pressure during cardiac surgery on nineteen patients. The controller, through the action of the supervisor, detected and responded appropriately to the great majority of disturbances. This study demonstrated that supervisory adaptive control has the potential to provide clinically acceptable regulation, of arterial pressure.