Wear of coated surfaces tends to progress through a series of stages in which damage accumulates until the coating fails to protect its substrate. Depending on the coating system and the contact conditions, these stages can sometimes be detected as a series of discrete periods of changing frictional behavior, or they can occur quite rapidly, leading to rapid removal of the coating. A new technique has been developed to capture magnified infrared (IR) images of a selected location on a moving wear surface and to synchronize these cycle-by-cycle images with the instantaneous friction force that occurs at the same location. A pin-on-disk tribometer has been used to demonstrate the principle, but other kinds of test geometries can also be used. Contrast in the IR images derives not only from the surface temperatures but also from the emissivity of surface features. A spatial calibration of the system allows the measurement of the width of the wear path as a function of time. By studying a series of captured and friction- synchronized images, it is possible to observe the detailed progression of wear and the corresponding frictional transitions in a limitless variety of materials. Examples of several different materials, including, steel, aluminum, brass, and paint, will be used to illustrate the application of time-resolved microscopic tribo-thermography to coatings research.