Zirconium (Zr) metal is of interest for chemical corrosion protection and nuclear reactor core applications. Inert chamber plasma spraying has been used to produce thin Zr coatings on stainless steel (SS) substrates. The coatings were deposited while using transferred arc (TA) cleaning/heating at 5 different current levels. In order to better understand thermal diffusion governed processes, the coating porosity, grain size and interdiffusion with the substrate were measured as a function of TA current. Low porosity (3.5% to < 0.5%), recrystallization with fine equiaxed grain size (3-8 µm diameter) and varying elemental diffusion distance (0-50 µm) from the coating substrate interface were observed. In addition, the coatings were low in oxygen content compared to the wrought SS substrates. The Zr coatings sprayed under these conditions look promising for highly demanding applications.