The effects of nitrogen pre-implantation of AISI C1045 steel substrates on the properties of deposited TiN coatings were investigated. Nitrogen ion implantations were performed at 40 keV, to the fluences from 5x1016 – 5x1017 ions/cm2. On so prepared substrates we deposited 1.3 μm thick TiN layers by reactive sputtering. Structural characterizations of the samples were performed by grazing incidence X-ray diffraction analysis (GXRD), standard X-ray diffraction analysis (XRD), and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Microhardness was measured by Vicker’s method. The obtained results indicate the formation of iron-nitrides in the near surface region of the substrates, more pronounced for higher implanted fluences. The structure of the deposited TiN coatings shows a strong dependence on the pre-implantation of the substrates, which is attributed to the changed local structure at the surface. Ion implantation and deposition of hard TiN coatings induce an increase of the microhardness of this low performance steel of more than eight times.