The tribological properties of (Al2O3) ceramics/1Cr18Ni9Ti stainless steel rubbing pairs were investigated using a MMW-1 tribo-tester under pure water and different concentrations of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) solutions. A comparison analysis of the friction coefficient, wear mass loss and worn surface topographies was conducted. The wear mass loss of the 1Cr18Ni9Ti stainless steel ring sample in all H2O2 solutions was greater than that in pure water. The wear mass loss was the highest in 70% H2O2 solution. The comprehensive analysis showed that the main wear mechanisms between the Al2O3 ceramics/1Cr18Ni9Ti stainless steel rubbing pairs were severe adhesive, abrasive and ploughing wear in the H2O2 solutions. It is believed that the knowledge gained in this study will provide the theoretical data and guide for the optimisation of the rubbing pairs in the H2O2 solutions to be used for the lubrication of some moving parts in the propulsion system of the launch vehicle. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.