This study investigates the dynamic properties of a laminated composite magnetorheological (MR) fluid sandwich plate. The governing differential equations of motion of a sandwich plate embedding a MR fluid layer as the core layer and laminated composite plates as the face layers are presented in a finite element formulation. The validity of the developed finite element formulation is demonstrated by comparing the results in terms of the natural frequencies derived from the present finite element formulation with those in the available literature. Various parametric studies are also performed to investigate the effect of a magnetic field on the variation of the natural frequencies and loss factors of the MR fluid composite sandwich plate under various boundary conditions. Furthermore, the effect of the thickness of the MR fluid layer and the ply orientation of the composite face layers on the variation of the natural frequencies and loss factors are studied. The free vibration mode shapes under various boundary conditions of a MR fluid laminated composite sandwich plate are also presented. The forced vibration response of a MR fluid composite plate is investigated to study the dynamic response of the sandwich plate under harmonic force excitations in various magnetic fields. The study suggests that the natural frequency increases with increasing magnetic field, irrespective of the boundary conditions. The reduction in peak deflection at each mode under a harmonic excitation force with variation of the applied magnetic field shows the effectiveness of the MR fluid layer in reducing the vibration amplitude of the composite sandwich plate. © 2014 IOP Publishing Ltd.