Current commercial live video streaming systems are based either on a typical client–server (cloud) or on a peer-to-peer (P2P) architecture. The former architecture is preferred for stability and QoS, provided that the system is not stretched beyond its bandwidth capacity, while the latter is scalable with small bandwidth and management cost. In this paper, we propose a P2P live streaming architecture in which by adapting dynamically the playback rate we guarantee that peers receive the stream even in cases where the total upload bandwidth changes very abruptly. In order to achieve this we develop a scalable mechanism that by probing only a small subset of peers monitors dynamically the total available bandwidth resources and a playback rate control mechanism that dynamically adapts playback rate to the aforementioned resources. We model analytically the relationship between the playback rate and the available bandwidth resources by using difference equations and in this way we are able to apply a control theoretical approach. We also quantify monitoring inaccuracies and dynamic bandwidth changes and we calculate dynamically, as a function of these, the maximum playback rate for which the proposed system able to guarantee the uninterrupted and complete distribution of the stream. Finally, we evaluate the control strategy and the theoretical model in a packet level simulator of a complete P2P live streaming system that we designed in OPNET Modeler. Our evaluation results show the uninterrupted and complete stream delivery (every peer receives more than 99 % of video blocks in every scenario) even in very adverse bandwidth changes.