In this paper we present an experimental comparison between different decentralized controllers for industrial robot manipulators. In spite of the fact that robot manipulators are highly nonlinear and coupled multivariable systems, decentralized controllers have been widely adopted in industrial environments for trajectory tracking, because of their simplicity and their fault tolerance feature. Different kinds of controllers have been investigated: the typical PID-based controller, a nonlinear three-term controller devised by Tarokh, and a variable structure control law, a discontinuous integral control, both in the continuous and in
the discretised version. Allowances are made for the tuning of the parameters in order to obtain low tracking errors. Results show that better performances are obtained by controllers other than PID, especially by the discontinuous integral control, so that they appear to be particularly appropriate for the use in industrial robots.