A quantitative method using Rockwell C indentation was developed to study the adhesion of diamond-like carbon (DLC) protective coatings to the CoCrMo biomedical implant alloy when immersed in phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) solution at 37 degrees C. Two kinds of coatings with thicknesses ranging from 0.5 up to 16 microns were investigated, namely DLC and DLC/Si-DLC, where Si-DLC denotes a 90 nm thick DLC interlayer containing Si. The time-dependent delamination of the coating around the indentation was quantified by means of optical investigations of the advancing crack front and calculations of the induced stress using the finite element method (FEM). The cause of delamination for both types of coatings was revealed to be stress-corrosion cracking (SCC) of the interface material. For the DLC coating a typical SCC behavior was observed, including a threshold region (60J m(-2)) and a "stage 1" crack propagation with a crack-growth exponent of 3.0, comparable to that found for ductile metals. The DLC/Si-DLC coating exhibits an SCC process with a crack-growth exponent of 3.3 and a threshold region at 470 Jm(-2), indicating an adhesion in PBS at 37 degrees C that is about eight times better than that of the DLC coating. The SCC curves were fitted to the reaction controlled model typically used to explain the crack propagation in bulk soda lime glass. As this model falls short of accurately describing all the SCC curves, limitations of its application to the interface between a brittle coating and a ductile substrate are discussed.