This paper is concerned with speed control of hydraulic press system. First, the mathematical model of hydraulic press is derived from its physical characteristics. Then, based on this model, the so-called back-stepping approach is used to design a speed controller. Moreover, in order to overcome the unknown deformation resistance and some other resistance, an adaptive control scheme is introduced to this controller. Finally, a real hydraulic press model is used to validate the proposed method. Simulation results show that the adaptive controller deals with the nonlinearity effectively, and the tracking performance of the system is good.