Abstract In this work we investigate the shear rheology of Carbopol 981 microgel particle suspensions, confined between shearing plates with gap separations from 5 μm to 100 μm. We show that even for confining gaps smaller than the gel particle size, the yielding of concentrated microgel sus- pensions is delayed to stress levels above the bulk yield stress. Furthermore, for stresses below this new yield point, slip is described by elastohydrody- namic lubrication theory as long as the direct confinement of the single gel particles between the shearing surfaces is limited to a Hertzian deformation. For a strong, non-Hertzian particle deformation the slip layer breaks down
and leads to a frictional interaction of the single confined particle with the two shearing surfaces, depending on their surface roughness. Lubrication pressuresand friction coefficients have been quantified with in-situ normal force measurements on the confined particles, which have also been utilised to unambiguously determine the relevant swollen particle dimensions.