It is now common practice to supplement a magnetic bearing with a touchdown bearing to protect the rotor and stator components. Rotor/touchdown bearing contact may arise from rotor drop, caused by power loss or emergency shutdown. This paper considers the control options that are viable when the magnetic bearing is still functional should contact arise from intermittent faults or overload conditions. The problem is that bi-stable rotor responses are possible, with and without contact. If rotor contact should become persistent, the desirable course of action is to destabilize the rotor response and induce a return to contact-free levitation. In order to achieve this, it is appropriate to gain an understanding of the rotor dynamic behavior. This is determined from analytical and simulated results to reveal suitable control actions. These may be applied through the magnetic bearing control system, or by activating the touchdown bearing through a separate control loop. The issue is that standard control action for a contact-free rotor state will not be appropriate for a rotor in persistent contact since the basic plants to be controlled are significantly different. The required control action should be activated only when contact is detected. The results demonstrate that appropriately phased synchronous forcing could destabilize synchronous forward rub responses. Alternatively, small whirl motions of a touchdown bearing could also be beneficial without disturbing the main magnetic bearing control loop.