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A single expression for estimating the nominal pitting strength of steel materials, based on surface hardness, is developed from first principles for a reliability of 99% at 107 load cycles. It requires the hardness values to be measured in Vicker’s hardness scale. The expression may be used for any steel material processed by hot rolling, cold drawing, quenching and tempering or case-hardening. The formulation incorporates a nominal design factor at 99% reliability which is estimated from a probabilistic model based on the lognormal probability density function. Pitting strength estimates from the expression are compared with those of American Gear Manufacturers Association (AGMA) estimates and data from other sources as indicated in Tables 3 and 4. The expression predicts lower values at low hardness but higher values at high hardness. The variance is between -15.21% and 10.13% for through-hardened steels. For case-hardened steels, the variances range from 14.23% to 20.26% between the estimates and available data. These variances appear to be reasonable considering the many factors involved in pitting resistance. The main advantage of this study is that pitting strength of new steel materials may be estimated for initial design sizing without long and costly contact fatigue testing which of course is necessary for design validation. Also, the estimation method developed may be applied to other materials, metallic and non-metallic. Suggestions are made for estimating some pertinent pitting strength adjustment factors when considering field or service pitting strength.