In this work an experimental study of the turning of AISI4140 is presented. The scope is the understanding of the workpiece microstructure and hardness-depth-profiles which result from different cutting conditions and thus thermomechanical surface loads. The regarded input parameters are the cutting velocity (vc = 100, 300 m/min), feed rate (f = 0.1, 0.3 mm), cutting depth (ap = 0.3, 1.2 mm) and the heat treatment of the workpiece (tempering temperatures 300, 450 and 600°C). The experimental data is interpreted in terms of machining mechanisms and material phenomena, e.g. the generation of white layers, which influence the surface hardness. Hereby the process forces are analyzed as well. The gained knowledge is the prerequisite of a workpiece focused process control.