ln order to understand the tribological characteristics of TiN, (Ti, Al)N, (Ti, Nb)N and Ti(C, N) coatings, ball-on-disc experiments were performed under dry sliding ambient conditions. The coefficient of friction and the wear resistance against a corundum counterbody were determined as a function of coating composition and sliding speed. The wear of the (Ti, Nb)N coatings was found to be comparable to that of the TiN coatings and this was related to the formation of a similar type of oxide in the tribo-contact. In the case of the (Ti, Al)N coatings, the wear volume increased markedly as the aluminium in the coating increased, and the tribo-oxide formed was found to be Al2TiO5. Ti(C, N) coatings exhibited an extremely low wear against corundum because of the low coefficient of friction. A mild-oxidational wear model was found to give a qualitative fit to the experiments. Measuring the coating wear as a function of sliding speed opens the possibility of calculating the activation energy for tribo-oxidation processes of thin coatings.