Mobile ad hoc networks are data networks entirely made up of enduser communication terminals (known as nodes). Each node in the network can act as an information sink (i.e. a receiver), a source and a router. All nodes have a transmission range, which is limited by their transmission power, attenuation and interference. Mobile ad hoc networks have a number of disadvantages over wired networks. These include limited bandwidth in the wireless medium, limited power supply and mobility. The traditional routing algorithms such as DBF will not work in such networks due to lack of scalability and ability to cope with highly mobile networks. Recently, a number of routing protocols have been designed to overcome these issues. These protocols can be classified into three different categories: global, on-demand and hybrid routing. In this paper, we provide a performance comparison for on-demand routing protocols, which is based on a number of different parameters. This paper also considers which protocol characteristics will produce better performance levels in these networks, and what improvements can be made to further increase the efficiency of some of these routing protocols.