A variable friction model that relates the parameters of sheet metal drawing to the local lubrication conditions taking place during the deformation, has been integrated to a finite element program. Variable friction coefficients for the contacting surfaces are determined from the friction model, which uses the related parameters obtained at each time step of the finite element program as inputs. A number of numerical runs have been performed and the strains are compared with the experimental results for circular blanks. A good agreement is obtained between the numerical and experimental results for the variable friction model used. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.