Abstract A full numerical solution is presented for the pressure, oil film thickness, temperature and shear stress for a gear surface using the theory of nonnewtonian thermal elastohydrodynamic lubrication. The equivalent stress distribution in the gear subsurface is obtained under various rolling-sliding ratios. The results of this paper successfully explain why pitting failure usually occurs near the pitch point where the rolling-sliding ratio is lower. Moreover, it is implied that by controlling the limiting shear stress of the lubricant τ L , the flash temperature in the contact zone can be reduced. The analysis in this paper is also very useful for choosing gear surface hardening parameters.