The chip light emission and morphology, cutting forces, surface roughness, and tool wear in turning of Zr-based bulk metallic glass (BMG) material are investigated. Machining results are compared with those of aluminum 6061-T6 and AISI 304 stainless steel under the same cutting conditions. This study demonstrates that the high cutting speeds and tools with low thermal conductivity and rake angle activate the light emission and chip oxidation in BMG machining. For the BMG chip without light emission, serrated chip formation with adiabatic shear band and void formation is observed. The cutting force analysis further correlates the chip oxidation and specific cutting energy and shows the significant reduction of cutting forces for machining BMG at high cutting speeds. The machined surface of BMG has better surface roughness than that of the other two work materials. Some tool wear features, including the welding of chip to the tool tip and chipping of the polycrystalline cubic boron nitride (PCBN) tool edge, are reported for turning of BMG. This study concludes that BMG can be machined with good surface roughness using conventional cutting tools. (C) 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.