The question of the influence of nonaxisymmetric field perturbations on tokamaks is investigated. Recent experiments in the COMPASS-C tokamak [in Proceedings of the 15th Symposium on Fusion Technology, Utrecht (North-Holland, Amsterdam, 1989), Vol. 1, p. 3611 with externally applied helical fields reveal that magnetic islands do not appear until the applied field exceeds a certain value, when plasma rotation and confinement are affected. A new resistive magnetohydrodynamic model including plasma rotation now provides an explanation of this threshold, and is quantitatively consistent with experimental results in Ohmic plasmas. The results indicate the tolerable error fields in future tokamaks. The effects of perturbations with various poloidal and toroidal mode numbers have been studied.