As-plated and annealed NiP coatings and composite NiP-SiC coatings were investigated in uni-directional ball-on-disc sliding tests. Abrasive wear was noticed in the case of composite NiP coatings containing submicron SiC particles, whereas in NiP coatings oxidational wear was active. The addition of submicron SiC particles not only increases the hardness of these electrolytic coatings but also hinders the formation of an oxide film in the sliding wear track. As a consequence, the wear loss on as-plated NiP coatings is not markedly reduced by the addition of SiC particles. On the contrary, a heat treatment at 420 degrees C for 1 h decreases the wear loss on both pure NiP and composite NiP-SiC coatings. During that heat treatment, Ni3P precipitates are formed in the NiP matrix and owing to this fact, the hardness of both pure NiP and composite NiP-SiC coatings increases. However, the heat treatment of composite NiP-SiC coatings induces the sensitivity for crack formation in the NiP matrix around these SiC particles. As a result, the pull out of SiC particles in the wear track occurs easily during sliding, and the wear loss of composite NiP-SiC coatings remains above the wear loss on NiP coatings. (c) 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.