Adhesion energy values for thermal oxide scales cyclically grown at 850 and 950°C in air on ferritic and austenitic stainless steels were obtained using an inverted blister test and a tensile test working in the SEM chamber. The blister test used water pressure for debonding the metalscale interface, whereas the tensile test led to transverse compression generating scale spallation by buckling. Adhesion energy, defined by energy for interface crack propagation by unit area, was shown to be in the range 10 to 650 J.m–2 for the chromia-rich scales with thickness in the micrometer range. Ferritic grades gave less adherent scales than austenitic ones, and a great influence of titanium was evidenced, greatly increasing scale adhesion; niobium was less operative. Adhesion was well connected with nature and morphology of Ti and/or Nb-containing precipitates at the metal-scale interface.