The nonlinear response and strong coupling of control channels in micromachined membrane deformable mirror (MMDM) devices make it difficult for one to control the MMDM to obtain the desired mirror surface shapes. A closed-loop adaptive control algorithm is developed for a continuous-surface MMDM used for aberration compensation. The algorithm iteratively adjusts the control voltages of all electrodes to reduce the variance of the optical wave front measured with a Hartmann-Shack wave-front sensor. Zernike polynomials are used to represent the mirror surface shape as well as the optical wave front. An adaptive experimental system to compensate for the wave-front aberrations of a model eye has been built in which the developed adaptive mirror-control algorithm is used to control a deformable mirror with 19 active channels. The experimental results show that the algorithm can adaptively update control voltages to generate an optimum continuous mirror surface profile, compensating for the aberrations within the operating range of the deformable mirror.