Statement of problem The clinical performance and failure mechanisms of recently introduced ceramic crown systems used to restore posterior teeth have not been adequately examined. Purpose The purpose of this prospective clinical study was to evaluate and compare the clinical performance of 2 new ceramic crown systems with that of metal ceramic crowns using modified United States Public Health Services (USPHS) criteria. Material and methods Ninety posterior teeth requiring crown restorations in 48 patients were randomized into 3 equal groups (n=30) for which different crown systems were used: an experimental hot-pressed glass ceramic based on a modified lithium disilicate ceramic (IPS e.max Press), an alumina-coping-based ceramic (Procera AllCeram), and a metal ceramic (Simidur S 2 veneered with IPS Classic Porcelain). The crowns were assessed over 3 years using the modified USPHS criteria. Crowns that developed visible cracks were sectioned and removed, and the surfaces were analyzed using a scanning electron microscope (SEM). The data were analyzed using the Kruskal-Wallis nonparametric statistical test, followed by the Mann-Whitney test with Bonferroni correction (α=.05). Results USPHS evaluation showed that the IPS e.max Press and metal ceramic crowns experienced fewer clinical changes than Procera AllCeram. Visible roughness, wear, and deformity were noticed in occlusal contact areas of Procera AllCeram crowns. SEM images showed well defined wear facets in both ceramic crown systems. Kruskal-Wallis tests showed a significant difference ( P<.05) in Alpha scores among the 3 crown systems. Mann-Whitney tests showed significant differences among groups. Conclusions IPS e.max Press crowns demonstrated clinical behavior comparable to Procera AllCeram and metal ceramic crowns, but the wear resistance of this crown type was superior to the Procera AllCeram crowns, according to modified USPHS criteria.