A decoupled fuzzy sliding-mode controller design is proposed. The decoupled method provides a simple way to achieve asymptotic stability for a class of fourth-order nonlinear systems with only five fuzzy control rules. The ideas behind the controller are as follows. First, decouple the whole system into two second-order systems such that each subsystem has a separate control target expressed in terms of a sliding surface. Then, information from the secondary target conditions the main target, which, in turn, generates a control action to make both subsystems move toward their sliding surface, respectively. A closely related fuzzy controller to the sliding-mode controller is also presented to show the theoretical aspect of the fuzzy approach in which the characteristics of fuzzy sets are determined analytically to ensure the stability and robustness of the fuzzy controller. Finally, the decoupled sliding-mode control (SMC) is used to control three highly nonlinear systems and confirms the validity of the proposed approach.