The latest developments of material surface engineering to reduce the friction and wear of the piston ring in recent decade have been summarized. This paper analyzes the severe operating conditions of the piston ring in engine in detail. Based on the theoretical analysis, the essential technique requirements for piston ring wear resistant coatings are proposed. The state of research and application, the process features and furture development tendency of main material surface engineerings such as plasma spray, neckel-based plating and vapor deposition are investigated. The results show that material surface engineering will play more and more important role in the piston ring and other components in high performance engine in the near furture. Particularly the nickel-based plating and physical vapor deposition are more powerful and flexible in pratical application for the piston ring. Also it can be predicted that new multilayer coatings and ceramic composite coatings are expected to have great potential as wear resistant materials and to be an important approach direction in the field of piston ring wear resistant coatings.