The friction and wear mechanisms of particulate (metal particle and barium ferrite) and metal evaporated (ME) magnetic tapes were investigated. We conducted tests on these tapes in contact with metal-in-gap (MIG) video heads, using a rotary head recorder in the still (pause) mode. We measured signal degradation and friction during the tests. We conducted chemical and surface analyses of the interface components after the tests. We found discernible differences between the tribological behavior of particulate tapes, and that of the ME tape. The particulate tapes exhibited a more stable friction and head output than the ME tape. We attributed this to a cleaner contact region, due to effective action of the head cleaning agents (HCAs) found in the particulate tapes. The particulate tapes exhibited wear lifetime longer by an order of magnitude, than that of the ME tape. Mild continuous adhesive wear occurred on particulate tapes followed by catastrophic failure. Tape fatigue possibly led to the catastrophic failure. On the ME tape surface, damage initiated at high points or bumps, which resulted in localized delaminations of the tape coating. This led to a catastrophic removal of the entire magnetic coating over the rubbing track. The major difference between the particulate and ME tapes was that signal dropouts concurrent with increases in friction, which resulted from debris accumulation on the video head, preceded the catastrophic failure in the case of ME tapes. We investigated the running-in process of the video head. We found that the durability of a tape and the initial head output increased, and the initial friction force on a tape decreased, as the head ran-in with the tape. We attributed this result to the tape forming a favorable contour on the head rubbing surface. Deposits on the head surface consisted of binder for the particulate tapes, and lubricant and the magnetic coating for ME tape. Tape materials transferred preferentially to the recessed metal core and the recessed glass of the MIG head.