We introduce a method that exploits the "active" nature of the force-sensing integrated readout and active tip (FIRAT), a recently introduced atomic force microscopy (AFM) probe, to control the interaction forces during individual tapping events in tapping mode (TM) AFM. In this method the probe tip is actively retracted if the tip-sample interaction force exceeds a user-specified force threshold during a single tap while the tip is still in contact with the surface. The active tip control (ATC) circuitry designed for this method makes it possible to control the repulsive forces and indentation into soft samples, limiting the repulsive forces during the scan while avoiding instability due to attractive forces. We demonstrate the accurate topographical imaging capability of this method on suitable samples that possess both soft and stiff features. (c) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.