In this study, we investigated the friction and wear performance of diamond-like carbon films (DLC) derived from increasingly hydrogenated methane plasmas. The films were deposited on steel substrates by a plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition process at room temperature and the tribological tests were performed in dry nitrogen. Tests results revealed a close correlation between the hydrogen in the source gas plasma and the friction and wear coefficients of the DLC films. Specifically, films grown in plasmas with higher hydrogen-to-carbon ratios had much lower friction coefficients and wear rates than did films derived from source gases with lower hydrogen-to-carbon ratios. The lowest friction coefficient (0.003) was achieved with a film derived from 25% methane, 75% hydrogen, while a relatively high coefficient of 0.015 was found for films derived from pure methane. Similar correlations were observed for wear rates. Films derived from hydrogen-rich plasmas had the least wear, while films derived from pure methane suffered the highest wear. We used a combination of surface analytical methods to characterize the structure and chemistry of the DLC films and worn surfaces. (C) 2000 Published by Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.