The construction process and characteristics of a deformable mirror eigenmode are introduced. The eigenmode of a 37-element micromachined membrane deformable mirror (MMDM) from OKO, Ltd. is analyzed. The Gaussian-Seidel low-order aberrations are fitted with eigenmodes as basic functions. An experimental adaptive optics (AO) system is constructed with the MMDM as the wavefront corrector, a deformable mirror eigenmode as the wavefront control algorithm, and a Shack-Hartmann wavefront sensor as the wavefront detector. The experimental results demonstrate that the deformable mirror eigenmode can act as the wavefront control algorithm for the AO system based on the MMDM. (C) 2006 Optical Society of America.