The friction and wear behaviour of ZrO2-Y203, ZrO2-Y203-CeO2 and ZrO2-A1203 composite ceramics against hardened steel AISI-52100 were investigated using a pin on plate configuration under reciprocating motion. The reproducibility of the results was examined in this configuration. Wear characteristics were separated into system and material contributions. Under the conditions used, all the ceramic components exhibited rather low wear rates (less than 10-6mm3N-1m-1). The frictional behaviour of ceramic-metal couples depended on a metallic layer transferred from the steel plate to the ceramic pin. A relation was determined between surface hardness and friction of ceramic-metal pairs. It was shown that the affinity for the transfer of the metal towards ceramic surfaces depended on the physical properties of the materials. In the tribosystems investigated, the effect of the hardness of the ceramics on friction and wear behaviour is found to be more important than that of toughness of the ceramics.