Abstract A nanocrystalline surface layer was fabricated on a medium manganese surfacing layer by rolling technology. The tribological behavior of the nanocrystalline layer was investigated under oil lubrication. The thickness of the nanocrystalline layer is 10μm. Experimental results show that the friction coefficient and wear volume are reduced by 10% and 80%, respectively. After surface nanocrystallization, there occurs a transition from the combined action of abrasive wear and fatigue wear to the abrasive wear. The advantages realized in the tribology properties of the treated sample may be attributed to the enhancement of the hardness and the surface residual compressive stress and homogeneous oil-lubricated film.