The wear of a cutting tool determines its life. Lesser the wear, more is the life of cutting tool and consequently the tool has to be replaced less frequently. This results in an increase in productivity of the machining operation, reduces manufacturing lead time and lowers the cost of production. Optimization of the process, use of cutting fluids for lubrication and hard coatings on the tool are the widely used methods to reduce tool wear. It has been recorded in previous studies that application of electric current to moving surfaces in contact, influences the wear of both the surfaces. The wear rate of the anodic surface was reduced and that of cathodic surface was increased. This paper attempts to study the effects of application of DC electric current on wear of turning insert during the turning operation of stainless steel 304 material. In the first phase of study, an L18 orthogonal array experiment was designed to study the effects of various factors (use of cutting fluid, polarity of cutting tool, applied voltage, cutting speed, feed and depth of cut) on insert wear and surface roughness of stainless steel 304 rod post machining. In the second phase of the experiment, the insert wear at different polarities were recorded at regular intervals of 70 mm cutting length while keeping the cutting parameters constant. Each cut was carried out for a total of 560 mm. The recorded readings are compared. © 2014 Published by Elsevier Ltd.