This paper is about S-estimation for penalized regression splines. Penalized regression splines are one of the currently most used methods for smoothing noisy data. The estimation method used for fitting such a penalized regression spline model is mostly based on least squares methods, which are known to be sensitive to outlying observations. In real world applications, outliers are quite commonly observed. There are several robust estimation methods taking outlying observations into account. We define and study S-estimators for penalized regression spline models. Hereby we replace the least squares estimation method for penalized regression splines by a suitable S-estimation method. By keeping the modeling by means of splines and by keeping the penalty term, though using S-estimators instead of least squares estimators, we arrive at an estimation method that is both robust and flexible enough to capture non-linear trends in the data. Simulated data and a real data example are used to illustrate the effectiveness of the procedure.