Diamond-like carbon (DLC) coatings have shown excellent tribological properties in laboratory tests. The coatings have also been introduced to several practical applications. However, the functional reliability of the coatings is often weakened by adhesion and load-carrying capacity related problems. In this study the load-carrying capacity of the coating/substrate system has been evaluated. The DLC coatings were deposited on stainless steel, alumina and cemented carbide with two different deposition techniques: the tetrahedral amorphous carbon (ta-C) coatings were deposited by a pulsed vacuum arc discharge deposition method and the hydrogenated carbon (a-C:H) films by radio frequency (r.f.) plasma deposition method. The load-carrying capacity of the coated systems was evaluated using a scratch test, Rockwell C-indentation test and ball-on-disc test. The effect of substrate material, substrate hardness, coating type and coating thickness was studied. An increase in substrate hardness increased the load-carrying capacity for the coated systems, as expected. The two coating types exhibited different performance under load due to their different physical and mechanical properties. For the load-carrying capacity evaluations the ball-on-disc configuration was found to be most suitable.