This paper presents a unified control framework for both set-point and time-varying force control of robot manipulator by introducing an improved position-based impedance control (IPBIC). In order to essentially achieve accurate force control, especially time-varying force tracking, a new target impedance function compensated by a force controller is presented. The essence of the improved method in realizing time-varying force tracking, as well as the coupled stability of the manipulator–environment system is investigated. To further improve the force control performance, the Newton-type iterative learning control (ILC) is introduced upon the closed-loop system. A case study on a two-link robot model demonstrates the effectiveness of this method.