The present work deals with the non-linear vibration of a harmonically excited single link roller-supported flexible Cartesian manipulator with a payload. The governing equation of motion of this system is developed using extended Hamilton's principle, which is reduced to the second-order temporal differential equation of motion, by using generalized Galerkin's method. This equation of motion contains both cubic non-linearities of geometric and inertial type in addition to linear forced and non-linear parametric excitation terms. Method of multiple scales is used to solve this non-linear equation and study the stability and bifurcations of the system. Influence of amplitude of the base excitation and mass ratio on the steady state response of the system is investigated for both simple and subharmonic resonance conditions. Critical bifurcation points are determined from the fixed-point responses and periodic, quasi-periodic responses are also found for different system parameters. The results obtained using the perturbation analysis are compared with the previously published experimental work and are found to be in good agreement. This work will be useful for the designer of a flexible manipulator. © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.