The novel fabrication technique that patterns the multiple electrodes of the ionic polymer metal composite actuators was developed to mimic the swimming and flapping locomotion of a living thing. The developed method is to combine electroplating with the electroless chemical reduction using the patterned mask. The advantages of this fabrication method are that the initial compositing between the polymer and platinum particles can be assured by the chemical reduction method, and the thickness of each electrode can be controlled easily and rapidly by electroplating. By using the fabricated actuator with a multiple degree of freedom, the oscillatory and undulatory waves of the flexible membrane actuator was generated and a twisting motion was also realized to verify the possibility of mimicking the fish-like locomotion. Present results show that this novel method combining electroplating with electroless plating can be a promising technique to easily pattern multiple electrodes and to implement the biomimetic motion of the polymer actuators with good mechanical bending performance. (C) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.