Abstract In this study, the effects of joint clearance on the dynamic performance of a planar 2-DOF pick-and-place parallel manipulator are investigated. The parallel manipulator is modeled by multi-body system dynamics. The contact effect in revolute joints with clearance is established by using a continuous analysis approach that is combined with a contact force model considering hysteretic damping. The evaluation of the contact force is based on Hertzian contact theory that accounts for the geometrical and material properties of the contacting bodies. Furthermore, the incorporation of the friction effect in clearance joints is performed using a modified Coulomb friction model. By numerical simulation, variations of the clearance joint's eccentric trajectory, the joint reaction force, the input torque, the acceleration, and trajectory of the end-effector are used to illustrate the dynamic behavior of the mechanism when multiple clearance revolute joints are considered. The results indicate that the clearance joints present two obvious separation leaps in a complete pick-and-place working cycle of the parallel manipulator, following a collision. The impact induces system vibration and thus reduces the dynamic stability of the system. The joint clearances affect the amplitudes of the joint reaction force, the input torque, and the end-effector's acceleration, additionally the joint clearances degrade the kinematic and dynamic accuracy of the manipulator's end-effector. Finally, this study proposes related approaches to decrease the effect of joint clearances on the system's dynamic properties for such parallel manipulator and prevent “separation-leap-impact” events in clearance joints.