This work examines thermally induced failure processes of plasma-sprayed thermal barrier coatings. Cracking processes give rise to noise which was monitored by acoustic emission (AE) techniques. The sequential failure of coatings was examined from samples which were thermally cycled. Coatings of yttria-stabilized zirconia with and without a NiCrAlZr bond coat were plasma-sprayed onto U700 alloy rod. In some cases the substrate was intentionally overheated during deposition of the thermal protection system to check how this process variable influenced the AE response of the specimen. In this way a qualitative appraisal of how process variables affect coating integrity could be discerned in terms of cracking behavior. Results from up to seven consecutive thermal cycles are reported.