Bifurcations and route to chaos of the Mathieu–Duffing oscillator are investigated by the incremental harmonic balance (IHB) procedure. A new scheme for selecting the initial value conditions is presented for predicting the higher order periodic solutions. A series of period-doubling bifurcation points and the threshold value of the control parameter at the onset of chaos can be calculated by the present procedure. A sequence of period-doubling bifurcation points of the oscillator are identified and found to obey the universal scale law approximately. The bifurcation diagram and phase portraits obtained by the IHB method are presented to confirm the period-doubling route-to-chaos qualitatively. It can also be noted that the phase portraits and bifurcation points agree well with those obtained by numerical time-integration.