This paper aims at giving an insight into the wire electro discharge turning (WEDT) process, by analyzing the effect of machining parameters on material removal rate (MRR), surface roughness and roundness error, using the pulse train data acquired at the spark gap. To achieve this objective a simple and cost effective spindle is developed for the WEDT process. Pulse train data are acquired with a data acquisition system developed in the present work. A pulse discrimination algorithm has been developed for classifying the discharge pulses into open circuit, normal, arc and short circuit pulses. With the help of algorithm the number of arc regions, average ignition delay time, the width of the normal and arc regions in the data acquired can also be obtained. It has been observed that the rotation of the workpiece has significant influence on the type of the discharges occurring at the spark gap. Preliminary experiments conducted to compare the WEDM and WEDT processes disclosed that MRR is less in WEDT and the number of arcs and arc regions are more in WEDT. It has been observed that the surface roughness and roundness error of the WEDT components are influenced by the occurrence of arc regions, width of arc and normal discharge regions and average ignition delay time. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.