Lubricated fretting tests in water and paraffin oil were performed with a monolithic TiB2, a TiB2-based cermet with 16 vol.% Ni-3(Al, Ti) binder, a sialon-TiB2 (60/40) composite and a ZrO2-TiB2 (70/30) composite against ball bearing grade steel. Based on the measured friction and wear data, the ranking of the investigated fretting couples was evaluated. Furthermore, the morphological investigations of the wom surfaces and transfer layers are carried out and the wear mechanisms for the investigated friction couples are elucidated. WEle fretting in water, experiments revealed that tribochemical reactions, coupled with mild abrasion, played a major role in the wear behavior of the studied material combinations. ZrO2-TiB2 (70/30)/steel wear couple has been found to have the highest fretting wear resistance among the different tribocouples under water lubrication. Under oil lubrication, extensive cracking of the paraffin oil at the fretting contacts, caused by tribodegradation, leads to the deposition of a carbon-rich lubricating layer, which significantly reduced friction and wear of all the investigated tribosystems. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.