A method is provided for controlling a power train system for a hybrid electric vehicle. The method includes a torque distribution strategy for controlling the engine and the electric motor. The engine and motor commands are determined based upon the accelerator position, the battery state of charge and the amount of engine and motor torque available. The amount of torque requested for the engine is restricted by a limited rate of rise in order to reduce the emissions from the engine. The limited engine torque is supplemented by motor torque in order to meet a torque request determined based upon the accelerator position.