The ever increasing size of wind turbines poses a number of design issues for the industry, like increasing component mass and fatigue loads. An interesting concept for reducing fatigue loads is the implementation of spanwise distributed devices to control the aerodynamic loading along the span of the blade, thus mitigating fluctuations in loading and adding damping to the blade modes. This is usually referred to as the smart rotor concept. In the design of such a rotor, as compared to a traditional one, the integration of sensors and actuators poses additional design challenges. In the research discussed in this paper, a scaled smart rotor was designed and constructed to study its fatigue load reduction potential. A 1.8 m diameter rotor was manufactured and equipped with trailing‐edge flaps. The flaps were based on piezo electric Thunder actuators that allow for high‐frequent actuation. The dynamic strain behaviour of the blade was analysed for optimal placement of the sensors. Several sensors that record the strains and accelerations at different locations along the blade were implemented, but the controller was based on a piezo electric strain sensor. The rotor blades were mounted on a small turbine in the Delft University's Open Jet Facility wind tunnel and a mathematical state space model was obtained by using dedicated system identification techniques. Single‐Input Single‐Output, Multi‐Input Multi‐Output ℋ︁∞ feedback and feedforward controllers were designed, each focusing on different parts of the load spectrum. The rotor was tested at 0 and 5° yaw angles, with and without load control. A significant reduction of the dynamic loads was attained. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.