This is a three-part article explaining the principles of gear lubrication. It reviews current knowledge of the field of gear tribology and is intended for both gear designers and gear operators. Part 1 classifies gear tooth failures into five modes and explains the factors that a gear designer and operator must consider to avoid gear failures. It defines the nomenclature and gives a list of references for those interested in further research. It also contains an in-depth discussion of the gear tooth failure modes that are influenced by lubrication and gives methods for preventing gear tooth failures.