A radiometric method has been developed for the determination of camshaft wear during engine operation. After a radioactive tracer is induced at the tips of one or more cam lobes by the technique of surface layer activation, calibration procedure are performed to determine the amount of radioactive material remaining versus the depth worn. The decrease in γ-ray intensity measured external to the engine is then directly related to cam lobe wear. By incorporating a high-resolution detector and an internal radioactive standard,measurement accuracy better than ±0.2 μm at 95% confidence has been achieved. Without the requirement of engine disassembly, this method has provided unique measurements of break-in wear and wear as a function of operating conditions. Because this approach requires only low levels of radiation, it has significant potential applications in wear control.