This paper presents a comparison study of surface hardening by grinding versus machining. The technological, economical and ecological merits of machining hardening and grind-hardening process for steels are described. The mechanisms of machining hardening and grind-hardening of steels are investigated and compared. The phase transformation, plastic deformation and white layer generation are the principal factors contributing to the hardened surface layer by machining and grinding. The influences of the process parameters on the penetrated hardness are given for both grind-hardening and machining hardening operations. The future development trends of the grind-hardening and machining hardening are also presented.