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Low-power design is one of the most important issues in wireless sensor networks (WSNs), while reliable information transmitting should be ensured as well. Transmitting power (TP) control is a simple method to make the power consumption down, but excessive interferences from potential adjacent operating links and communication reliability between nodes should be considered. In this paper, a reliable and energy efficient protocol is presented, which adopts adaptive rate control based on an optimal TP. A mathematical model considering average interference and network connectivity was used to predict the optimal TP. Then for the optimal TP, active nodes adaptively chose the data rate with the change of bit-error-rate(BER) performance. The efficiency of the new strategy was validated by mathematical analysis and simulations. Compared with 802.11 DCF which uses maximum unified TP and BASIC protocol, it is shown that the higher average throughput can achieve while the energy consumption per useful bit can be reduced according to the results.