Three-body abrasive wear resistance of mild steel and 27%Cr white cast iron was investigated using a ball-cratering test. Glass beads, silica sand, quartz and alumina abrasive particles with sizes larger than 200 mum were used to make slurries. It was found that the wear rates of mild steel increased with sliding time for all abrasive particles tested, while the wear rates of 27%Cr white cast iron were almost constant with sliding time. This increase in the wear rates of mild steel was mainly due to the gradual increase in ball surface roughness with testing time. Abrasive particles with higher angularity caused higher ball surface roughness. Soft mild steel was more affected by this ball surface roughness changes than the hard white cast iron. Generally, three-body rolling wear dominated. The contribution of two-body grooving wear increased when the ball roughness was significant. The morphological features of the wear scars depended on the shape of the abrasive particles and also on the hardness and microstructure of the wear material. Angular particles generated rough surfaces similar to those usually observed in high angle erosion tests. Rounded particles generated smoother surfaces with the middle area of the wear craters having similar morphology to those observed in low angle erosion. (C) 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.