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This study investigates the rotor speed estimation problem for induction motor drives. The authors propose the design of a scheme based on a discrete-time sliding mode observer which provides the rotor speed estimative. A new algorithm for discrete-time rotor speed estimation is developed and analysed. The conditions for the existence of a discrete-time sliding switching hyperplane are analysed. Moreover, conventional algorithms aiming at the chattering reduction and high-frequency switching on discrete-time implementation are discussed for use with the proposed technique. The stability analysis and parameter convergence of the proposed method are investigated for discrete-time solution. The algorithms developed are tested by experimental results based on fixed-point digital signal processor (DSP) platform (TMS320F2812). Therefore the results demonstrate the good performance of the proposed scheme.