A markerless method is described for tracking the motion of subjects in a three dimensional environment using a model based on linked kinematic chains. The invention is suitable for tracking robotic, animal or human subjects in real-time using a single computer with inexpensive video equipment, and does not require the use of markers or specialized clothing. A simple model of rigid linked segments is constructed of the subject and tracked using three dimensional volumetric data collected by a multiple camera video imaging system. A physics based method is then used to compute forces to align the model with subsequent volumetric data sets in real-time. The method is able to handle occlusion of segments and accommodates joint limits, velocity constraints, and collision constraints and provides for error recovery. The method further provides for elimination of singularities in Jacobian based calculations, which has been problematic in alternative methods.