The current design algorithms for compliant mechanisms often generate solutions that imitate rigid-body linkages by means of point flexures or flexure pivots, by using the popular spring model formulation. This paper presents a kinetoelastic formulation for compliant mechanism optimization. With a state equation of the mechanism defined by the elasticity theory, the model incorporates not only the kinematic function requirements of the mechanism but, more importantly, the necessary conditions on the compliance characteristics of the mechanism’s structure. The kinematics of the compliant mechanism is defined on rigid bodies of input/output ports and is related to a set of kinetoelastic factors of the mechanism’s compliance matrix. The kinetoelastic formulation is applied to the problem of optimizing a compliant translational joint, producing compliant designs with compliance properties such as the leaf spring type sliding joint as opposed to the notch-type joint. This paper represents an initial development toward a more general methodology for compliant mechanism optimization.