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Reactive ion etching (RIE) is sensitive to changes in chamber conditions, such as wall seasoning, which have a deleterious effect on process reproducibility. The application of real time, closed loop control to RIE may reduce this sensitivity and facilitate production with tighter tolerances. The real-time, closed loop control of plasma density with RF power in a capacitively coupled argon plasma using a hairpin resonance probe as a sensor is described. Elementary control analysis shows that an integral controller provides stable and effective set point tracking and disturbance attenuation. The trade off between performance and robustness may be quantified in terms of one parameter, namely the position of the closed loop pole. Experimental results are presented, which are consistent with the theoretical analysis.