Techniques for direct modulation of a voltage-controlled oscillator (VCO) with adaptive digital gain control for wideband wireless applications are disclosed. A digital adaptive gain control loop is used to directly modulate the VCO, and a phase-locked loop (PLL) to track the frequency drift and other nonlinear effects of the VCO. As the PLL is applied to track the carrier frequency without passing the modulation signal into the PLL loop filter, the PLL can be implemented with a narrow loop bandwidth. The wideband frequency modulated signal is directly up-converted to the radio frequency (RF) signal by directly modulating the VCO through a digital-to-analog converter which is digitally controlled by an adaptive gain control loop. Thus, both wide bandwidth and low output noise for a frequency synthesizer and modulator can be achieved.