Due to Japan’s recent nuclear crisis and petroleum price hikes, the search for renewable energy sources has become an issue of immediate concern. A promising candidate attracting much global attention is solar energy, as it is green and also inexhaustible. A maximum power point tracking (MPPT) controller is employed in such a way that the output power provided by a photovoltaic (PV) system is boosted to its maximum level. However, in the context of abrupt changes in irradiance, conventional MPPT controller approaches suffer from insufficient robustness against ambient variation, inferior transient response and a loss of output power as a consequence of the long duration required of tracking procedures. Accordingly, in this work the maximum power point tracking is carried out successfully using a sliding mode extremum-seeking control (SMESC) method, and the tracking performances of three controllers are compared by simulations, that is, an extremum-seeking controller, a sinusoidal extremum-seeking controller and a sliding mode extremum-seeking controller. Being able to track the maximum power point promptly in the case of an abrupt change in irradiance, the SMESC approach is proven by simulations to be superior in terms of system dynamic and steady state responses, and an excellent robustness along with system stability is demonstrated as well.