We treat the design of a three-jointed, anthropomorphic, finger mechanism for prostheses and robotic end-effectors. Based on the study of configurations for the human finger, we propose a six-bar linkage with one degree of freedom for the finger mechanism. A model of the fingertip displacement of the mechanism is derived by a vector analysis approach. We study the effects of joint friction on the transmission efficiency. By measuring the joint positions of a human finger, we develop a mathematical model of the pinching and holding configurations for the human finger. Optimal parameters for the finger mechanism are obtained by nonlinear programming based on motion posture, locus, transmission efficiency, and weight subject to geometric and bionic constraints. Simulations indicate that the mechanism is useful in a variety of prosthetic and robotic devices.