Abstract We have developed a new way to stably maintain a detached plasma based on feedback control of the negative hydrogen ion (H −) density in the linear divertor plasma simulator, TPD-SheetIV. Measurements of the negative hydrogen ion density, n H − , the heat load to the target plate, Q, and the secondary gas-flow rate, G Div, were carried out as a function of neutral pressure in the plasma. A small amount of secondary gas puffing strongly reduced Q and rapidly increased n H − in the periphery of the plasma without increased radiative and three-body recombination. The detached plasma is steadily maintained in the region of the target plate by rapidly varying G Div so as to maximize the value of n H − and keep P Div constant. The new system has achieved the goal of reducing both Q and amount of G Div in a detached plasma.