The quarter-pel motion vector accuracy supported by H.264/advanced video coding (AVC) in motion estimation (ME) and compensation (MC) provides high compression efficiency. However, it also increases the computational complexity. While various well-known fast integer-pel ME methods are already available, lack of a good, fast subpel ME method results in problems associated with relatively high computational complexity. This paper presents one way of solving the complexity problem of subpel ME by making adaptive motion vector (MV) accuracy decisions in inter-mode selection. The proposed MV accuracy decision is made using inter-mode selection of a macroblock with two decision criteria. Pixels are classified as stationary (and/or homogeneous) or nonstationary (and/or nonhomogeneous). In order to avoid unnecessary interpolation and processing, a proper subpel ME level is chosen among four different combinations, each of which has a different MV accuracy and number of subpel ME iterations based on the classification. Simulation results using an open source x264 software encoder show that without any noticeable degradation (by - 0.07 dB on average), the proposed method reduces total encoding time and subpel ME time, respectively, by 51.78% and by 76.49% on average, as compared to the conventional full-pel pixel search.