Samples of steel roping wires were coated with thin layers of molybdenum by physical vapour deposition and then subjected to a fretting wear test. A further set of molybdenum-coated roping wire samples were processed by laser surface alloying prior to wear testing. Molybdenum-coated wires showed lower wear but not lower friction than uncoated wires in the fretting wear test. A thick coating of molybdenum was found to reduce fretting wear without the need for laser treatment. Fretting wear between molybdenum-coated wires was characterized by the formation of molybdenum oxides on the worn surfaces which suppressed adhesion between the fretting wires. Lifetime of the molybdenum coating during fretting wear tests was determined by coating fracture and spalling.