During the past decade, self-mating metal bearings based on cobalt–chromium–molybdenum (CoCrMo) alloys have become very popular in total hip replacements and hip resurfacings. This led to a market share of more than 35 % for metal-on-metal (MoM) bearings in the United States before several cases of high wear with biologic consequences led to a sharp drop in popularity. In part, these failures are a result of a very shallow understanding of the wear mechanisms in MoM joints and their relation to the microstructure. In order to find such a relation, one has to keep in mind that the microstructures of metallic materials depend distinctly on the entire production sequence. In addition, they change markedly under tribological stresses. This paper does not discuss the wear of any specific retrieval or even try to relate that to the specific microstructure, because such a task would be impossible based on the unknown loading history of such retrievals. Thus, we depict only the possible range of microstructures from standardized high carbon (HC)-CoCrMo retrievals. These reveal different types of hard phases: carbides and/or intermetallic phases. Some are fine (<10 μm) and homogeneously distributed, whereas others appear as thin (<1 μm) and brittle cord-shaped arrangements at grain or dendrite boundaries. Coarser (>30 μm) types of mixed hard phases, which consist of carbides and intermetallic phases, often show microcracks already below the articulating surfaces. Such subsurface microcracks are known to destabilize the gradient below the surface and the balance between tribochemical reactions and surface fatigue. In this paper, the microstructures of retrievals manufactured from standard cast CoCrMo alloys are shown and evaluated.