Abstract The influence of the disc topography on the generation of automotive disc brake squeal has been studied. Two brake discs were shot-blasted to produce small pits in the disc surface. The discs were then tested in a special brake squeal rig. During the tests, the coefficient of friction increased from about 0.3 to 0.45 as pits were gradually reduced in size as the discs were worn. A removable section in one of the discs made it possible to record the size and location of the surface defects by SEM-investigations before, during and after the test. For the tested pad/disc combination, there were no brake squeals generated as long as the friction coefficient was below a critical level of 0.4. The use of shot-blasted discs thus provides a unique possibility to investigate the correlation between brake disc topography, friction coefficient and brake squeal generation without changing neither the composition nor the macroscopic geometry of brake pad or disc.