In recent years, cognitive radio has received a great attention due to tremendous potential to improve the utilization of the radio spectrum by efficiently reusing and sharing the licensed spectrum bands, as long as the interference power inflicted on the primary users of the band remains below a predefined threshold level. Cognitive radio allows the secondary users in the cognitive radio network to access the licensed spectrum of the primary users opportunistically. In this paper, an autonomous distributed adaptive transmission range control scheme for cognitive radio networks which is called the RAC is proposed. The RAC considers the QoS requirements of both the primary and the secondary users simultaneously. The cognitive user's maximization of its achievable throughput without interfering the primary user by adapting transmission range of the secondary users dynamically is the key feature of the RAC. One of the advantages of using the proposed scheme is its implementation simplicity. The RAC is compared to other cognitive radio schemes in a simulation environment by using ns2. Simulations indicate that, the RAC can well fit into the mobile cognitive radio ad hoc networks and improve the network performance. Having compared to the other schemes utilizing contemporary cognitive radio technology, the RAC provides better adaptability to the environment and maximizes throughput and minimizes data delivery latency. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.