A new approach is utilized to determine the effects of surface roughness on partially lubricated contacts. An average Reynolds equation for rough surfaces is defined in terms of pressure and shear flow factors, which are obtained by numerical flow simulation. Through the use of measured or numerically generated rough surfaces, any three dimensional roughness structure can be analyzed with this method. The average Reynolds equation is obtained for isotropic surfaces, and for surfaces with directional patterns. The flow factors for these surfaces are expressed as empirical relations in terms of h/σ and a surface characteristic γ defined as the ratio of x and y correlation lengths.