Controller design for effective operation of robotic manipulator is a challenging task due to its highly complex and nonlinear dynamics. This issue may be resolved by incorporating fractional mathematics along with two-degrees-of-freedom PID controller. The fractional mathematics enhances the accuracy of control action, whereas two-degrees-of-freedom controller solves multiple issues like set point tracking and disturbance rejection simultaneously. Therefore, in this paper, a two-degree-of-freedom fractional-order proportional–derivative (2-DOF FOPD) controller is proposed for efficient trajectory control of two-link rigid manipulator. Conventional PID and its integer-order equivalent (2-DOF PD) controllers are also designed for comparative analysis. The parameters of designed controller are tuned using multi-objective cuckoo search algorithm (MOCSA) to minimize two conflicting objectives of robotic manipulator. Simulation study reveals the effectiveness and robustness of 2-DOF FOPD controller, in terms of trajectory tracking and disturbance rejection.