Abstract Experiments were carried out on the wear of three f.c.c. metals, Ni, Cu and Au, under unlubricated conditions using a pin and disk machine in a vacuum chamber. Wear was determined with varying load, sliding velocity and atmospheric pressure. As no oxygen is chemisorbed on Au, the extent of the influence of the chemisorbed oxygen film was determined by using Au as the reference material. The effects of sliding velocity and atmospheric pressure on wear are discussed and a potential mechanism of wear fragment removal is suggested.