The objective of the study is to actively control friction between engineering ceramics in underwater applications. By designing a proper electrode system and applying an external electric field, the active control of friction between Al2O3 plate and ZrO2 ball in sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) aqueous solutions has been realized, which is different from the previous studies of potential controlled boundary lubrication where at least one part of tribo-pairs is a conductor. Reversible change of friction coefficient has been observed in the range from 0.12 to 0.35. An indirect electric field-assisted adsorption model has been proposed to explain the observed phenomena. The addition of inorganic salts containing counterions to the SDS solution or increasing the concentration of SDS can shorten the response time of friction to the variation of the applied electric field by facilitating the formation of SDS micelles. This opens a new way to realize the active control of friction for insulative tribo-pairs without corrosion.