For the actively cooled first wall panels of the W7-X stellarator under construction at Greifswald, Germany, boron carbide (B4C) coatings with a thickness up to 500 μm are being developed as plasma facing surface on the stainless steel component. Different coating technologies (vacuum plasma spray (VPS), atmospherical plasma spray (APS)) are investigated. Characterisation of the coatings comprises metallo"graphic and SEM investigations, impurity determination and measurement of the thermal conductivity, characterisation of the sputtering behaviour and the behaviour under plasma exposure. First in-pile-tests in the tokamak TEXTOR-94 at the Research Centre Juelich have been performed. 10 poloidal limiter elements and 5 test limiters made of copper with a 170 μm thick B4C VPS coating were exposed to plasma discharges with ohmic and additional heating. By varying the limiter positions and plasma density, different loading conditions were imposed. After exposure, the test limiters were removed for further analyses. First results showed the formation of small craters in the coating, probably due to arcing. Although melting occurred within a limited zone around the craters, the coatings did not detach from the substrate or show severe cracking outside the molten area.