Radiometric wear techniques have been applied to determine the effect of fuel-saving engine oils on journal bearing load capacity. A test machine which applied a unidirectional load to a radioactive test bearing was used to evaluate bearing load capacity. The onset of bearing wear with increasing load provided a direct measurement of fluid-film breakdown, which defined hydrodynamic bearing load capacity. From this, an “effective” lubricant viscosity was calculated by comparing the performance of non-Newtonian lubricants to the performance of Newtonian lubricants. Results show that for the oil formulations tested that employ either a low viscosity or a soluble friction modifier to reduce engine friction, there is a high correlation between high-shear viscosity and hydrodynamic load capacity. The use of an insoluble friction modifier resulted in a higher bearing load capacity than expected based on high-shear viscosity.