Diamond films deposited on tungsten carbide can lead to major improvements in the life and performance of cutting tools. However, deposition of diamond onto cemented tungsten carbide (WC-Co) is problematic due to the cobalt binder in the WC. This binder provides additional toughness to the tool but results in poor adhesion and low nucleation density of any diamond film. A two-step chemical etching pretreatment (Murakami reagent and Caro acid, (MC)-pretreatment) and a boronization pretreatment have both been used extensively to improve adhesion of CVD diamond film on WC-Co substrates. Here we discuss the applicability of MC-pretreatment for a range of Co-containing WC-Co substrates, and demonstrate a controlled synthesis process based on liquid boronizing pretreatment for obtaining smooth and dense micro-or nano-crystalline diamond films on high Co-containing WC-Co substrates. Substrate treatments and deposition parameters were found to have major influences on the smoothness, structure and quality of the diamond films. The best quality diamond films were achieved under conditions of relatively high substrate temperature (T-s) and the best adhesion was achieved at T-s = 800 degrees C. (C) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.