This paper describes the design of a FES system automatically controlled in a closed loop using a Microsoft Kinect sensor, for assisting both cylindrical grasping and hand opening. The feasibility of the system was evaluated in real-time in stroke patients with hand function deficits. A hand function exercise was designed in which the subjects performed an arm and hand exercise in sitting position. The subject had to grasp one of two differently sized cylindrical objects and move it forward or backwards in the sagittal plane. This exercise was performed with each cylinder with and without FES support. Results showed that the stroke patients were able to perform up to 29% more successful grasps when they were assisted by FES. Moreover, the hand grasp-and-hold and hold-and-release durations were shorter for the smaller of the two cylinders. FES was appropriately timed in more than 95% of all trials indicating successful closed loop FES control. Future studies should incorporate options for assisting forward reaching in order to target a larger group of stroke patients.