1. Brief increases or decreases in vertical load force were applied to an object held between the thumb and finger. Grip force increases occurred consistently from 60 to 90 ms after onset of the load force increase. These responses did not adapt and were typically from 100 to 200 ms in duration. Reductions in object load force yielded rapid reductions in grip force at latencies comparable to those for load increases. 2. Response magnitude was proportional to the size or velocity of the load force increment, but did not vary with the level of the preexisting grip force. Thus these responses did not maintain the grip force at a specified level above the object's slip point. 3. Grip force responses were abolished or substantially reduced when loads were delivered directly to the hand rather than to the object. In contrast, force responses were not always abolished upon anesthetization of the thumb and finger. These results are discussed in relation to the role of cutaneous mechano-receptors of the digital pulps and proprioceptors of the arm and hand for providing necessary afferent information utilized in load-related grip force modulation. 4. Rapid and automatic grip force adjustments to load force variations may contribute importantly to grasp tasks in which the load forces vary dynamically and without complete predictability, such as in the manipulation of tools or objects that contact the environment.