An EMG-driven virtual arm is being developed in our laboratories for the purposes of studying neuromuscular control of arm movements. The virtual arm incorporates the major muscles spanning the elbow joint and is used to estimate tension developed by individual muscles based on recorded electromyograms (EMGs). It is able to estimate joint moments and the corresponding virtual movements, which are displayed in real-time on a computer screen. In addition, the virtual arm offers artificial control over a variety of physiological and environmental conditions. The virtual arm can be used to examine how the neuromuscular system compensates for the partial or total loss of a muscle's ability to generate force as might result from trauma or pathology. The purpose of this paper is to describe the design objectives, fundamental components and implementation of our real-time, EMG-driven virtual arm. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.