This paper describes an investigation of active bit vibration on the penetration mechanisms and bit-rock interaction for drilling with a diamond impregnated coring bit. A series of drill-off tests (DOTs) were conducted where the drilling rate-of-penetration (ROP) was measured at a series of step-wise increasing static bit thrusts or weight-on-bits (WOBs). Two active DOTs were conducted by applying 60 Hz axial vibration at the bit-rock interface using an electromagnetic vibrating table mounted underneath the drilling samples, and a passive DOT was conducted where the bit was allowed to vibrate naturally with lower amplitude due to the compliance of the drilling sample mountings. During drilling, an acoustic emission (AE) system was used to record the AE signals generated by the diamond cutter penetration and the cuttings were collected for grain size analysis. The instrumented drilling system recorded the dynamic motions of the bit-rock interface using a laser displacement sensor, a load cell, and an LVDT (linear variable differential transformer) recorded the dynamic WOB and the ROP, respectively. Calibration with the drilling system showed that rotary speed was approximately the same at any given WOB, facilitating comparison of the results at the same WOB. Analysis of the experimental results shows that the ROP of the bit at any given WOB increased with higher amplitude of axial bit-rock vibration, and the drill cuttings increased in size with a higher ROP. Spectral analysis of the AEs indicated that the higher ROP and larger cutting size were correlated with a higher AE energy and a lower AE frequency. This indicated that larger fractures were being created to generate larger cutting size. Overall, these results indicate that a greater magnitude of axial bit-rock vibration produces larger fractures and generates larger cuttings which, at the same rotary speed, results in a higher ROP.