In this paper, a closed-loop fuzzy logic controller based on the particle swarm optimization algorithm is proposed for controlling the power level of nuclear research reactors. The principle of the fuzzy logic controller is based on the rules constructed from numerical experiments made by means of a computer code for the core dynamics calculation and from human operator's experience and knowledge. In addition to these intuitive and experimental design efforts, consequent parts of the fuzzy rules are optimally (or near optimally) determined using the particle swarm optimization algorithm. The contribution of the proposed algorithm to a reactor control system is investigated in details. The performance of the controller is also tested with numerical simulations in numerous operating conditions from various initial power levels to desired power levels, as well as under disturbance. It is shown that the proposed control system performs satisfactorily under almost all operating conditions, even in the case of very small initial power levels. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.