This study focuses on the design and characterization of a radial double-plate magneto-rheological fluid (MRF) clutch. The clutch's torque output can be controlled by adjusting the applied magnetic field. Electromagnetic finite element analysis (FEA) is performed to design and optimize the clutch. The shear stress distribution in MRF between the plates is theoretically predicted using the magnetic flux density distribution evaluated from the FEA. The output torque of the clutch is derived by using the Bingham plastic constitutive model. The output torque values are recorded for different input velocities and applied magnetic fields, and they are compared with the theoretical results. It was demonstrated that the clutch is capable of producing high controllable torques.© (2002) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.