We report our investigation on chromium oxide thin film coatings that show a negligible ion release during electrochemical corrosion testing in saline solution. The chemical constituents of the films prepared by reactive magnetron sputtering were identified to be predominantly Cr2O3 based on Raman spectroscopy anti-symmetric stretching vibration modes for CrIII–O and other peaks and an FTIR spectroscopy E u vibrational mode at 409 cm−1. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, multiplet fitting for 2P 3/2 and 2P 1/2 states also confirmed the predominantly Cr2O3 stoichiometry in the films. The prepared chromium oxide coatings showed superior pitting corrosion resistance compared to the native chromium oxide films on bare uncoated stainless steel when tested under open circuit potential, potentiodynamic polarisation and cyclic voltammetry in saline solution. The chromium ion released into solution during the corrosion testing of stainless steel substrates coated with chromium oxide coatings was found to be negligibly small based on atomic absorption spectroscopy measurements. Our Mott–Schottky analysis investigation showed that the negligibly small ion release from the chromium oxide coated steel substrates is most likely due to a much lower defect density on the surface of the deposited coatings compared to the native oxide layer on the uncoated steel substrates. This opens up the opportunity for using chromium oxide surface coatings in hip, knee and other orthopaedic implants where possible metal ion release in vivo still poses a great challenge.