The primary purpose of this work was the examination of the surface and the strength of ATZ ceramic after hydrothermal treatment. Hydrothermal treatment of ATZ ceramic leads to changes of roughness and phase composition on the surface. The phase composition and the microstructure on the surface and within the peripheral zone were determined after applying a stepwise broad ion beam polishing technique and quantitative phase analysis. With this technique a penetration depth of the phase transformation of less than 14 µm was observed. Investigations of the cross sectional area by means of FESEM have shown a transformation zone of about 9 µm. Both methods lead to comparable results with a very small, morphologically changed peripheral layer. The study of the strength after ageing with different thickness of the samples showed that for a thickness of 2.0 mm there is no negative influence on mechanical behaviour. In consideration of this fact no significant change of tribological properties is expected.