We measured the wear resistances of alumina, alumina/silicon carbide composite and alumina/mullite composite by abrasive wear. And we studied the influence of fracture mode and worn surface pullout on wear resistance. The results are as follows: the main wear mechanisms of alumina and alumina/silicon carbide were fracture wear and plastic wear respectively, and for alumina/mullite composite, fracture wear and plastic wear mechanisms worked together. The wear resistance of the alumina/silicon carbide composite and the alumina/mullite composite was better by a factor of 1 similar to 3 than that of the monolithic alumina. There were two main reasons for the better wear resistance, i.e., the improved mechanical properties and the more smooth worn surfaces. However, The primary reason was the reduction of area fraction of pullout on the worn surfaces induced by fracture mode transition. (C) 2007 Published by Elsevier B.V.