Selective catalytic reduction (SCR) is a promising diesel aftertreatment technology that enables low nitrogen oxides (NOx) tailpipe emissions with relatively low fuel consumption. Future emission legislation is pushing the boundaries for SCR control systems to achieve high NOx conversion within a tailpipe ammonia (NH3) slip constraint, and to provide robustness to meet in-use compliance requirements. This work presents a new adaptive control strategy that uses an ammonia feedback sensor and an online ammonia storage model. Experimental validation on a 12-liter heavy-duty diesel engine with a 34-liter Zeolite SCR catalyst shows good performance and robustness against urea under- and over-dosage for both the European steady-state and transient test cycles. The new strategy is compared with a NOx sensor-based control strategy with cross-sensitivity compensation. It proved to be superior in terms of transient adaptation and taking an NH3 slip constraint into account. © 2006 IEEE.