POMDPs provide a principled framework for planning under uncertainty, but are computationally intractable, due to the “curse of dimensionality” and the “curse of history”. This paper presents an online lookahead search algorithm that alleviates these difficulties by limiting the search to a set of sampled scenarios. The execution of all policies on the sampled scenarios is summarized using a Determinized Sparse Partially Observable Tree (DESPOT), which is a sparsely sampled belief tree. Our algorithm, named Regularized DESPOT (R-DESPOT), searches the DESPOT for a policy that optimally balances the size of the policy and the accuracy on its value estimate obtained through sampling. We give an output-sensitive performance bound for all policies derived from the DESPOT, and show that R-DESPOT works well if a small optimal policy exists. We also give an anytime approximation to R-DESPOT. Experiments show strong results, compared with two of the fastest online POMDP algorithms.