As high-speed steel tap is incapable of small-hole tapping (M3) in hardened steel, vibration tapping is introduced in this paper to solve this problem. Theoretic analysis with fracture mechanics indicates that the impact effect of the tap on the workpiece results in extended micro cracks and a much lower tapping torque. And the torsional rigidity of the tap is enforced in vibration tapping as proved by dynamic analysis. The experimental results show that with well chosen amplitudes, tapping torque decreases as vibration frequency increases and increases with the increase of net cutting time ratio, with the latter being the more significant influencing factor. In vibration tapping of hardened steel, 24 threads can be machined with a single tap. Vibration tapping is then proved to be a practical solution to the problem of small-hole tapping in hardened steel.