This paper describes an experimental study of the frictional behaviour of diamond, graphite and of carbon which have been outgassed in vacuo. The removal of surface films which are normally present causes a large increase in the friction. The admission of a small amount of oxygen, water vapour or other contaminant will reduce the friction. Both physical adsorption and chemical adsorption are important. There is evidence that with clean graphite surfaces there is strong adhesion at the interface, so that when sliding takes place slip and shearing occurs beneath the surface. Carbon and graphite have a negative temperature coefficient of friction. The low friction normally observed with diamond is due to the presence of adsorbed oxygen and other gases. The friction of clean diamond on diamond is high, and the shear strength at the interface is comparable with the shear strength of diamond. Large-scale seizure does not occur because the deformation of the diamond in the region of contact is elastic and the real area of contact necessarily remains small.