A compliant gripper with nearly parallel gripping motion is developed by a topology synthesis and a dimensional synthesis approach. The topology synthesis process can generate linkage-type compliant mechanisms. Suitable boundary conditions of the topology synthesis process are selected to achieve the desired functions of the device. The dimensional synthesis is based on an evolutionary optimal design process. To meet various design goals, a nondominated multi-objective genetic algorithm is selected for the optimal design process. A kinetostaic model based on the chained beam constraint model is developed for force–displacement analysis of the designs. Efficiency and accuracy of the design approach are proved by experiments. Appropriate linkage types of compliant mechanisms may be discovered by the topology optimization process before moving on to the dimensional synthesis to obtain final designs.