The function of lubricants is to control friction and wear in a lubricating system containing machine elements such as gears and bearings. This article discusses the basic properties of lubricants to help scientists and engineers understand the principles behind lubricant selection. It reviews the functions of additives, such as friction modifiers, antiwear additives, viscosity modifiers, corrosion inhibitors, oxidation inhibitors, dispersants, and detergents. The article discusses the physical properties of liquid lubricants and the performance characteristics of lubricants. It describes the most common lubricant categories and provides information on the health and safety aspects of using liquid lubricants. The article concludes with a discussion on the lubricant-application method that plays a vital role in how the lubricant functions.