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An optimal control algorithm was adapted to identify and track the optimal deflation time of the intraaortic balloon pump (IABP). Routines for handling physiologically imposed constraints were added to the algorithm, which was implemented in a computer-controlled system. The system was designed to provide real time optimization for the clinical setting. Proper values for the algorithm parameters were determined and the system was tested in animal experiments. The results indicate that the controlling deflation time relative to the R wave, which precedes the next ejection phase, reduces the time required for optimization when the heart rate varies.